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The goal of this review is to pinpoint the specific features, including the weaknesses, of various tumor models, and to discuss the reasons why treatments that are efficient in murine tumor models often do not work in clinics. In a detailed comparison of transplanted and spontaneous tumor models, we focus on structure-function relationships in the tumor microenvironment. For instance, the architecture of the vascular tree, which depends on whether tumor cells have gone through epithelial-mesenchymal transition, is determinant for the extension of the spontaneous necrosis, and for the intratumoral localization of the immune infiltrate. Another key point is the model-dependent abundance of TGFβ in the tumor, which controls the variable susceptibility of different tumor models to treatments. Grounded in a historical perspective, this review provides a rationale for checking factors that will be key for the transition between preclinical murine models and clinical applications.

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EMT, TGFβ, cancer biology, immunology, inflammation, microenvironment, spontaneous tumors, transplanted tumors, vascularization