Why 3D?

Traditional two-dimensional cell cultures have helped in deciphering cellular pathways. As natural cellular interactions and responses have become crucial to the understanding of the tumor microenvironment, 3D culture techniques have been developed for a more accurate ex vivo model. These tumoroid arrangements allow cells to interact with one another and the extracellular matrix (ECM), which provides a much better understanding of cellular complexities.

In the 1980’s Mina Bissell at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory published a paper that highlighted the importance of the ECM, its effects on gene expression, and the downstream effect on the neighboring cells, along with the vital role of the microenvironment. Keeping the microenvironment intact allows researchers to retain what cannot be controlled in a two-dimensional system: ECM interactions, temperature, pH, cell-to-cell communications, all of which determine the vitality and viability of the cells found in the miroenvironment.

Strides in research have been and can be further gained when 3D ex-vivo systems are combined with technologies such as flow cytometry, multi-cytokine analysis, imaging, and gene expression profiling at both the single and multi-cellular levels. The ability of such tumoroid systems to be able to replicate the microenvironment of a tumor allows researchers to develop more robust drug discovery programs and potentially change the understanding of cancer treatments and the future of personalized medicines.

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