Polymer tissue scaffolds are increasingly being used in medicine as useful tools for creating therapeutic implants. Their volumetric structure replicates a connective tissue environment within which cells can grow much like they do in the body.
Turns out, not terribly surprisingly, that the same scaffolds are great for supporting the growth of tumors to study how various therapies affect them in the laboratory. The team from Rice University, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York that undertook the study has shown that Ewing sarcoma tumor cells grown within the porous electrospun polymer scaffolds”not only were more resistant to traditional cytotoxic drugs than were cells in 2D monolayer culture but also exhibited remarkable differences in the expression pattern of the insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor/mammalian target of rapamycin pathway.”
From Rice University’s press release:
“The scaffolds better recapitulate the microenvironment in which tumors grow, as compared with two-dimensional plastic surfaces typically used in cancer research to test anti-cancer drugs,” said Rice bioengineer Antonios Mikos, who led the research team with Joseph Ludwig, an assistant professor and sarcoma medical oncologist at MD Anderson.
“We’ve been working to investigate how we can leverage our expertise in engineering normal tissues to cancerous tissues, which can potentially serve as a better predictor of anti-cancer drug response than standard drug-testing platforms,” Mikos said.
By growing cancer cells within a three-dimensional scaffold rather than on flat surfaces, the team of researchers found that the cells bore closer morphological and biochemical resemblance to tumors in the body. Additionally, engineering tumors that mimic those in vivo offers opportunities to more accurately evaluate such strategies as chemotherapy or radiation therapies, he said.
Study in PNAS: Modeling Ewing sarcoma tumors in vitro with 3D scaffolds
Press release: 3-D scaffolds a new tool to fight cancer…