Organoids and spheroids can each produce in vivo-like iterations from in vitro cultures, but they have unique applications, and different lab scenarios might call for different multicellular structures.
Organoid technology has been used to great success in personalized medicine — in disease modeling as well as optimizing drug discovery and regenerative medicine. The applications of organoids in CRISPR research could similarly help scientists better study organ development within the context of gene editing.
Specific to cancer research, 3D organoids can provide insight into the mutational signatures of selected cancers because they can mimic the pathophysiology of human tumors.
Organoids can also function as a self-assembling miniature manifestation of a parent organ, which can be of particular benefit to researchers. For example, neural organoids bring us closer to understanding diseases in the brain, while researchers have studied intestinal organoids to better understand cystic fibrosis.
Perhaps most notably, tumor spheroids can help scientists understand the in vivo microenvironments of tumors, which can help researchers predict drug efficacy in cancer research. The earliest iterations of spheroids were developed in the 1970s to study the impact of radiotherapy on human tumor cells.
Spheroids can also be used in stem cell research to develop embryoid bodies from induced pluripotent stem cells, which can then be turned into high-purity neural stem cells useful in studying neural diseases and their related treatments.
Scientists have also used tumor spheroids to study the cytotoxic effects of CAR-T cells — such as with the KILR® Cytotoxicity assay developed by DiscoverX. When CAR-T cells are grown in KILR-transduced tumor spheroids, scientists can form, culture, and assay on the same spheroid microplate.