Advancing 3D models for defeating cancer


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Last week, Biogelx’s Marie Sklodowska-Curie Researcher Africa Galvez-Flores attended the 4th edition of the EACR conference Goodbye Flat Biology, in Berlin. The event brought together international scientists working on the latest advances in realistic models for cancer therapeutics, with a special focus on the relevance of 3D in vitro platforms for cancer biology and drug discovery. Topics ranged from mechanobiology and tumour microenvironment to sophisticated high throughput technology, such as tumour-on-a-chip, as well as high-resolution tumour imaging, among others.

The conference opened with a keynote lecture from Professor David Mooney, from Harvard University. Mooney talked about viscoelastic hydrogels for 3D cancer models and immunotherapy. Viscoelasticity is a time-dependent mechanical property of the extracellular matrix, which can be remodelled over time due to the exertion of cell traction forces and subsequent stress-relaxation. Using tunable hydrogels that allowed for the independent control over elasticity and stress relaxation, Mooney’s group demonstrated that the gene expression of various cell types present in tumours is impacted by the viscoelastic properties of the extracellular matrix.

Others, such as Professor Peter Frield, from Radboud University Medical Center, provided insight into cancer progression, mechanisms and therapeutic options. In particular, he talked about his research on intravital microscopy for the study of tissue fibrosis and cancer growth in bone. For this work, he used a synthetic scaffold to recreate bone tumours in engineered mouse models. Additionally, Dr Ellen Van Obberghen-Schilling, from the Université Côte d’Azur, emphasized the importance of the usage of biomimetics motifs in mimicking tumoral microenvironment. Professor Senthil Muthuswamy, a keynote speaker from Harvard University, closed the conference talks with a presentation of his recent work on patient-derived tumour organoids for personalized medicine. His studies provided further evidence of the possibility of directly predicting patient response to cancer drugs in vitro.

Apart from having the chance to learn from outstanding speakers, the attendees benefited from a highly interactive symposium, where more than 100 posters and other activities led to interesting discussions and further networking opportunities. Many of them met Africa, who presented her poster about Biogelx hydrogels and bioinks for realistic in vitro 3D cancer modelling, which included part of her work within theTHERACAT project. If you missed the conference, do not hesitate to download her poster from here.

Last but not least, all the participants could vote in a debate between smart 2D and 3D culture supporters. Not surprisingly, the newly 3D option was preferred by the audience!

 

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