Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Miniature Model Tumours
29 May 2018

Miniature Model Tumours

In the ongoing research endeavour to find effective treatments against cancer, scientists test countless candidate drugs on cultured cancer cells to see which will stop the cells’ growth or, better still, kill them. But inside the human body, cancers don’t generally grow as two-dimensional sheets the way they do in culture dishes. They grow as three-dimensional tumours, with the cells on the outside of the tumour experiencing different molecular interactions and influences to those within. To improve the emulation of real tumours in a laboratory setting, researchers have come up with a method for culturing three-dimensional cancer spheroids – the one shown here being created from a human pancreatic cancer cell line. The use of such tumour balls has already led to the discovery of a compound that prevents growth of cells carrying a common cancer mutation, therefore setting a precedent for similar discoveries in the future.

Written by Ruth Williams

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