How Does 3D Cell Culture Fit into New Cancer Research?
According to Sherman, 3D cell culture is highly suited to research into emerging trends in cancer therapy because of its ability to closely replicate in vivo conditions. "I think the most common feature of cancer research is that you want to generate the most physiologically relevant model possible to better replicate real life," she explains.
Feedback from her customers convinces Sherman that 3D cell culture technology is essential to new cancer research. "One of the things that amazes me the most is researchers are again and again showing the similarities in histological features between biopsies from the patient and the cultured organoids derived from them," she notes. "There are also many papers now showing how predictive these organoids are in determining the patient's response to treatment."
With 3D cell culture, this approximation to normal tissue architecture delivers cancer models that behave in a physiologically relevant manner. New cancer research can now look at how the tumor behaves in situ, surrounded by support cells that often influence growth, response to drugs, and the host immune system. Moreover, with OoC technology, drug toxicity screening can show the effect on tumors as well as other body systems like the liver.
Sherman also notes that 3D cell culture offers time and cost savings compared to traditional approaches. "It really comes down to what tools will help the user balance making the best model for recapitulating in vivo while still being able to accomplish the experimental goals in terms of reproducibility, cost, and throughput," she observes.
Specifically, 3D cell culture solutions support the AACR 2022 key emerging trends in cancer therapy, namely personalized medicine, early diagnosis and biomarker discovery, and drug discovery.
Creating 3D cell cultures using patient-derived tumor organoids (PDTOs) lets researchers identify specific tumor markers and evaluate potential therapies tailored to the individual. High throughput approaches accelerate drug evaluation and toxicity studies.
Early Diagnosis and Biomarker Discovery
The ability to examine tumor behavior in a physiologically relevant microenvironment means researchers can see what influences growth and how the cancer reacts to chemotherapy. 3D cell culture accurately reflects tumor type and heterogeneity in vitro.
Bioprinting organoids and OoC technology provide consistent high throughput screening approaches that accelerate chemotherapy and toxicity studies in physiologically relevant microenvironments.
What's Next in 3D Cell Culture for Cancer Research and Modeling?
As Sherman notes, "There is a lot of buzz around personalized medicine these days. We know that with some types of cancers, patients will respond very differently to drugs. The idea around growing a patient's own cells in order to determine the best treatment for that individual has a lot of interest."
Furthermore, since organoids are patient-derived, underrepresented populations don't miss out on diagnostic and clinical investigations.
In 2022, Corning hosted a Virtual 3D Cell Culture Summit in New York City. Sherman reports hearing from many Corning customers about how organoid models are helping them get more precise at delivering the right treatments to the right patients with much more successful outcomes.
"[This] is a huge win for the cancer research and treatments in the future," Sherman explains.
Predicting the future is always difficult. However, progress in 3D cell culture technology and emerging trends in cancer therapy make it easier to predict future needs cancer models will need to meet.
"I think more advanced and reproducible organoid models are what's next," Sherman says. "This could be for taking a more personalized medicine approach for treatment or for just making more diverse libraries for testing drugs so that we can have a better understanding of how drugs may respond to a diverse population."
To make this a reality, Corning continues to supply cutting-edge 3D cell culture tools — like Matrigel® matrix for organoid culture as well as spheroid microplates — and work toward new developments in cancer research. To learn more about the advancements being made, read the e-book How to Get Started in 3D Cell Culture.