Scientists use bioprinting to help identify treatments for glioblastoma.
Tags: 3D cancer models
Glioblastoma is the most common form of malignant brain cancer and is highly lethal. The surgical treatment of glioblastoma is almost impossible, since this type of cancer can attach to healthy brain tissue diffusely and erratically. Whilst the introduction of radiation therapy and most recently, the chemotherapy drug temozolomide can slow progression of the cancer, extending life expectancy beyond a year, more effective treatments are required to fight the disease. Looking for an urgent solution, many experts in the field are evaluating the protentional of personalized care of a patient’s tumour in glioblastoma treatment.
One method, called “ex vivo” or tumour “avatars,” has been extensively researched in the last few years. This technique allows testing a drug on patients’ cancer cells before introducing it into their bodies. Although this technique has seen success in a range of different cancers, it has not proven especially effective for glioblastoma.
However, a report recently published in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering may address the limitations of previous “ex vivo” approaches. According to the journal, Dong-Woo Cho, a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Pohang University of Science and Technology in South Korea demonstrated the effectiveness of bioprinting technology in developing an advanced “ex vivo” model of glioblastoma.
The strategy used by Prof. Cho’s team involved simultaneously mimicking the biochemical and biophysical properties of the native glioblastoma using a 3D bioprinting process. Tumour cells isolated from a patient are printed using a bioink to produce a patient-specific glioblastoma-on-a-chip. To mimic the heterogeneous tumour ecology, several other inks are used in the printing process, including a vascular cell-laden bioink surrounding the tumour to mimic the appropriate oxygen gradient, and a structural silicone ink Furthermore, the researchers also incorporated an “extracellular matrix” into their model to simulate the human-like environment for the tumour cells. The team used bio-ink containing decellularized brain-derived ECM (BdECM). With this new ex vivo tumour model, the researchers demonstrated that the bioprinted glioblastoma-on-a-chip reproduces clinically observed patient-specific resistances to treatment and that the model can be used to determine drug combinations associated with superior tumour killing. The patient-specific tumour-on-a-chip model might be useful for the identification of effective treatments for glioblastoma patients resistant to the standard first-line treatment.
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Source: Dong-Woo et.al., A bioprinted human-glioblastoma-on-a-chip for the identification of patient-specific responses to chemoradiotherapy, Nature Biomedical Engineering (2019)
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