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3-D tumor models improve drug discovery success rate
Date:7/20/2012

otic core more faithfully mimicking the microenvironments of human tumors. Additionally, spheroids can be grown in the presence of compounds that mimic extra cellular matrix the environment that surrounds and very much affects the growth and behaviors of human tumors.

Instead of indiscriminately killing cells, modern cancer drugs tend to target cells with very specific genetic mutations that turn on and off very specific growth and survival mechanisms that in turn very frequently depend on everything else going on in and around the cells. Using MCTS models, researchers can ask questions about how a drug will penetrate a tumor's heterogeneous 3D structure and how a drug will interact with the environment surrounding these tiny tumors.

"Though these MCTS models have been around since the 1970s, only recently has technology made it possible to use them in place of 2D models for the high-throughput screening used in drug discovery," LaBarbera says.

Remember those millions of cancer cells organized in independent divots that researchers hit with drugs? We're fairly tied to the technology that reads the results of these divots. But micro-technologies now allow multicellular tumor spheroids to be cultured in place of 2D cell cultures using high-throughput micro-well plates we can use the same drug testing machinery on these new models. Likewise, materials science technology now exists to grow cells within semipermeable membranes, helping researchers define the shape of the eventual spheres. And as futuristic as it undoubtedly sounds, magnetic cell levitation can help alleviate the problem of cells sticking to the plastic well surface, which limits spheroid growth.

The recent practicality of high-throughput MCTS screening leads LaBarbera to call today a "renaissance" for the technique.

Of course, this 3D testing is initially more expensive and more challenging. "A lot of researchers try to get cost down to pennies per well
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Contact: Garth Sundem
garth.sundem@ucdenver.edu
University of Colorado Denver
Source:Eurekalert

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