Nov.3, 2014

A Texas Medical Center research team has made a breakthrough in breast cancer research using revolutionary 3D bioprinting technology being developed by Nano3D Biosciences (n3D), a joint venture partner of Rainbow Coral Corp.

Researchers were able to create a better in vitro model of breast cancer by magnetically levitating cells using n3D's Bio-Assembler, a 3D bioprinting system designed for high throughput and high-content drug screening. By magnetically levitating cell cultures, the research team was able to replicate in vitro the cell heterogeneity of the tumor microenvironment.

(A) Schematic representation of the development of 3D in vitro breast tumor model from a dispersed mixture of fibroblasts (in blue) and breast cancer cells (in green) after the addition of nanoshuttles. The magnet placed on top aids the attraction of the nanoshuttle internalized cells to form a 3D tumor mass composed of fibroblasts and breast cancer cells and can be grown for several days. (B,C) Plot of the diameter and optical density of 1 day grown 3D in vitro breast tumors in 96-well plates, which was measured by GelCount. (D) H&E staining of 3D in vitro tumor models at 50% breast cancer and 50% fibroblast ratio grown in 6 well plates for 10 days comparing to 14 day old in vivo mouse breast tumor, Scale bar = 20 μm.


For months, RBCC and n3D have been focused on raising millions of dollars to further market and develop 3D bioprinting technology around the globe. "The Bio-Assembler uses biocompatible magnetic nanoparticles to levitate cells, allowing them to grow into 3D structures much faster, easier and more affordably than competing technology currently on the market," said RBCC CEO Kimberly Palmer.

Comparison of 2D co-culture with the 3D in vitro breast tumor model composed with different ratios and types of breast cancer cells (in green) to different types of fibroblasts (in red) grown for 3 days in cell culture conditions (37 C, 5% CO2). Blue signal is from DAPI, staining the nucleus. Images were taken with 10 × objective magnification, scale bar = 100 μm.


"These results signify a crucial breakthrough in studying cancer cells outside the body and developing new treatments. We at n3D are very proud that the Bio-Assembler, a technology we developed, is being used in critical research such as this important study," said Dr. Glauco Souza, n3D president and chief science officer, and a co-author of the study, which was published in Scientific Reports, a top 5 multidisciplinary science primary research journal.

In the study, entitled "Three Dimensional In Vitro Co-Culture Model of Breast Tumor Using Magnetic Levitation," research data suggests "that the proposed 3D in vitro breast tumor is advantageous due to the ability to: (1) form large-sized (millimeter in diameter) breast tumor models within 24 h; (2) control tumor cell composition and density; (3) accurately mimic the in vivo tumor microenvironment; and (4) test drug efficiency in an in vitro model that is comparable to in vivo tumors."

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