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Cancer Sci. 2010 Dec;101(12):2637-43. doi: 10.1111/j.1349-7006.2010.01723.x. Epub 2010 Sep 17.

Incorporation of multicellular spheroids into 3-D polymeric scaffolds provides an improved tumor model for screening anticancer drugs.

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Department of Bioengineering, University of California, Los Angeles, California, USA.


Development of cancer therapeutics requires a thorough evaluation of drug efficacy in vitro before animal testing and subsequent clinical trials. Three-dimensional (3-D) in vitro models have therefore been investigated for drug screening. In this study, we have developed a novel in vitro model in which multicellular aggregates, or spheroids, were incorporated into 3-D porous scaffolds. Drug resistance assays showed that spheroid-seeded scaffolds have much higher drug resistance than monolayer cultures, spheroids on flat substrates, or scaffolds seeded with dispersed cells. Furthermore, spheroid-seeded scaffolds demonstrated higher lactate production leading to acidosis, and higher expression of angiogenic factors. These data suggest that the spheroid-seeded 3-D scaffolds might serve as a useful in vitro system for screening cancer therapeutics.

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