Ectopic models

Circle Oncodesign Services

Ectopic models for your oncology research programs


Ectopic  models are developed for the research and testing of new therapies against cancer. In translational services, human tumor samples are cultured as cell lines and implanted into immunodeficient animals. The aim is to test the efficacy of new compounds in vivo.

With the experience and support of your trusted CRO partner, ectopic models will provide quality data and predictive information of how a new therapy will perform, before entering clinical trials.

Understanding ectopic models

The ectopic model is a standard cancer model used in oncology studies to investigate the mechanisms and effects of a new compound. In an ectopic tumor xenograft model, a specific organ, tissue, or structure is intentionally placed in a location outside its normal anatomical or physiological environment.

This model allows researchers to recapitulate specific disease conditions by manipulating the location of organs or tissues, for a deeper understanding of disease progression and potential treatments.

What are the advantages of ectopic models ?


Ectopic and orthotopic graft models have their specific advantages and disadvantages (see table).

Ectopic models rely on a grafting technique (subcutaneous injection or tumor fragment) which requires little material. They are therefore faster and easier to use. Additionally, tumor growth and volume can be easily monitored.

However, ectopic models are limited in terms of predicting therapeutic success because a tumor response to treatment depends in part on its location.

  Advantages Disadvantages
Ectopic models
  • Speed
  • Reproducibility
  • Little material required
  • Direct measurement of tumor growth
  • Rare metastases
  • Many false positives in the prediction of  treatment efficacy
Orthotopic models
  • More frequent metastases
  • Better reproduction of
  • clinical conditions
  • Better prediction of treatment efficacy
  • Surgeries requiring time and equipment.
  • Variability
  • Monitoring tumor growth is more complicated.


Table: comparaison between ectopic and orthotopic models (source :

Oncodesign Services has a large bank of characterized ectopic models

With Oncodesign Services, customers have access to a comprehensive collection of ectopic models in the mouse or rat, covering 20 organ origins and up to 35 pathologies (liver, breast, lung, brain, pancreas…). Our vast collection of tumor models is fully integrated within our in vitro experimental platform, dedicated to preclinical pharmacology.

For more in-depth information and research articles on our ectopic models, please contact our experts for further assistance.

Get in touch