Jan 25, 2018 | By Tess

A team from Ghent University in Belgium has developed a preclinical model of peritoneal metastasis using 3D printing technologies. The tumor model can reportedly be used to advance and improve chemotherapy treatments.

Peritoneal metastasis refers to a severe form of cancer which has spread from its original location in the body. Finding an effective treatment for it is thus critical in helping people survive it. Chemotherapy is currently one of the best ways to treat the disease, though there is still much room for improvement.

Team of researchers from the Laboratory of Experimental Cancer Research

As Olivier De Wever and his research team at Ghent University’s Laboratory of Experimental Cancer Research point out, existing therapies are still very limited in terms of their ability to penetrate tissue. One of the reasons advancing chemotherapy and other treatments has been difficult, they explain, is that preclinical models for testing treatments often do not reproduce the complexity of peritoneal metastasis.

Fortunately, and thanks in part to 3D printing technologies, the Belgium-based researchers say they have developed a preclinical tumor model which “faithfully mimics” peritoneal metastasis. The model was made using a combination of 3D printing and multicellular cell culture and has been tested by in vivo implantation in mice.

Let’s take a closer look at what went into developing the preclinical tumor model.

According to the researchers, they used 3D printing to build scaffold structures from PLA, which were then treated with plasma, gelatin and UV light. Additive manufacturing enabled them to create models of various sizes and with different porosities and mechanical and biochemical properties.

This design freedom meant that they could precisely mimic the conditions of metastasis tumor before injecting the scaffold with cancer and other cells. As the team explains it, being able to mimic the conditions of a tumor in a preclinical model can make for more realistic cell interactions.

The 3D printed tumor models created by the researchers were injected with cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAF) and tumor cell lines. This combination of cellular matter allowed for “the formation of tumor structures in vitro (spheroids).”

As mentioned, the 3D printed metastasis models were tested in in vivo conditions by being implanted in mice. After 11 weeks had passed, the team reported that the implanted structures were showing a heterogeneous cell population consisting of the CAF and cancer cells as well as immune, adipose, and epithelial cells from the host subject.

The team also noted that the implant was showing signs of vascularization (the formation of blood vessels) because of the CAF and cancer cell interaction. Overall, the results suggested that the 3D printed tumor model was closer to the real thing than any existing preclinical models.

The recently published study could mark a significant step forwards in improving cancer, and specifically peritoneal metastasis, treatment therapies. The researchers say their preclinical model can be used for drug testing as well as to test the ability of treatments to penetrate tissue. It could also be used to improve screening technologies for the formulation of new cancer therapies.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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