Aug 14, 2017 | By Tess

All over the globe, researchers are exploring the use of 3D bioprinting to create more effective methods of treating diseases such as cancer. Earlier this week even, we wrote about how scientists from the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI) at the University of Florida were using additive manufacturing processes to create tumeroids, which could ultimately be used to personalize and improve cancer therapies.

Now another research project, being undertaken at the University of Otago in Christchurch, New Zealand, is investigating how 3D bioprinting can help to develop treatments for breast cancer.

While breast cancer survival rates have increased significantly in recent years thanks to advancements in medicine and earlier detection efforts, the disease still claims the lives of around 600 women every year in New Zealand alone. As the most common type of cancer in women, it is no wonder that so many resources are being put towards finding a cure.

The 3D bioprinting cancer research mentioned above is being undertaken by a team of scientists that includes Elisabeth Phillips from the Mackenzie Cancer Research Group, and Khoon Lim, a bioprinting specialist from the University of Otago.

Together, they are developing a process for creating three dimensional structures made up of breast cancer cells. “Normally we would grow cells in a 2D sheet and they grow as one layer—what we’re doing here is growing them in a 3D environment so that the cells are in a more realistic environment,” Dr. Phillips explained to a local news channel.

The idea is similar to other research projects, which have found that having 3D cancer structures could provide better and more accurate results for testing various cancer drugs and therapies. Currently, the New Zealand researchers are investigating how chemotherapy agents are impacting the 3D bioprinted cancer structures.

"Cancer in a 3D environment does behave very differently to chemo drugs as opposed to in a 2D environment,” said Lim. “This means we can try to develop a lot of different drugs, more cancer-specific drugs that can help patients.”

Though not many details about the bioprinting process have been revealed, the New Zealand scientists are using an additive manufacturing system to essentially construct a tumor-like structure made from cancer cells. While the research is still in its early stages, one of the main goals of the project is to enable patient-specific cancer treatments.

In other words, researchers could one day use the bioprinting method to manufacture the artificial tumors using a particular patient’s cancer cells. This would enable the medical professionals to see which specific medicine and treatment process would be most effective for the patient in question. This personalized application for the process is still far off, however.

Also, while the research is currently geared towards breast cancer, Mike Berridge, a professor from the Malaghan Institute, believes that it could be adapted for treating other types of cancer. “The sorts of information that will come out of the types of modelling, the banks, the types of tumours that are being looked at will add to knowledge base and will help in our drive to essentially treat and control cancer,” he said.

The innovative and potentially game-changing research is being supported by funding from the cancer society.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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