A Systematic Approach To Review of In vitro models in Brain Tumour Research (SAToRI-BTR)


Background: A wide range of human in vitro methods has been developed and, increasingly, there are suggestions that these can replace the use of animals in research.1 Such studies could potentially replace in vivo studies in answering questions on clinical use of drugs and pathobiology of tumours. This depends on achieving consensus on the strength of evidence available (i.e. the quality and quantity) from in vitro studies, as well as its relevance. Methods for assessing clinical studies are well-developed.2 Rigorous ‘systematic reviews’ of clinical research are widely used as the basis for clinical decisions and recommendations, and have revealed gaps informing future research. A parallel development has taken place for animal studies3 but no such frameworks currently exist for synthesis and quality appraisal of in vitro studies.

Aims and Methods: SAToRI-BTR seeks to address these challenges and examine potential methods for systematic assessment of quality and appropriate use of in vitro studies. Firstly, through review and synthesis of in vitro studies to identify techniques and quality assessment criteria currently in use. This will involve analysis of current systematic reviews of in vitro studies and scoping all brain tumour-related in vitro studies. Secondly, through investigating current practice and views on how quality and relevance should be assessed. This will involve an online survey, telephone interviews with a sub-set of survey respondents and, finally, an expert consensus process (Delphi method)4.

Outcomes and impact: We anticipate that the outcomes will include agreed criteria for the assessment of quality and relevance of in vitro brain tumour studies for use by researchers, peer reviewers and funding bodies. We will also produce guidance on systematic reviews of in vitro research. These tools and techniques could be extended to other cancers and diseases, thus optimising the use of evidence from in vitro studies in addressing key questions.

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