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Biomaterials. 2012 Apr;33(10):3036-46. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2011.12.049. Epub 2012 Jan 13.

The use of an in vitro 3D melanoma model to predict in vivo plasmid transfection using electroporation.

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Department of Molecular Medicine, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33612, USA.


A large-scale in vitro 3D tumor model was generated to evaluate gene delivery procedures in vivo. This 3D tumor model consists of a "tissue-like" spheroid that provides a micro-environment supportive of melanoma proliferation, allowing cells to behave similarly to cells in vivo. This functional spheroid measures approximately 1 cm in diameter and can be used to effectively evaluate plasmid transfection when testing various electroporation (EP) electrode applicators. In this study, we identified EP conditions that efficiently transfect green fluorescent protein (GFP) and interleukin 15 (IL-15) plasmids into tumor cells residing in the 3D construct. We found that plasmids delivered using a 6-plate electrode applying 6 pulses with nominal electric field strength of 500 V/cm and pulse-length of 20 ms produced significant increase of GFP (7.3-fold) and IL-15 (3.0-fold) expression compared to controls. This in vitro 3D model demonstrates the predictability of cellular response toward delivery techniques, limits the numbers of animals employed for transfection studies, and may facilitate future developments of clinical trials for cancer therapies in vivo.

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