Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Branching Out

3D lab-grown pancreatic cancer model mimics the branching development of the disease

25 September 2022

Branching Out

Cancer comes in all shapes and sizes. Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) forms branching structures as it arises from a tissue made of tube-like structures called glandular branched epithelia. The branching structure of PDAC is thought to contribute to its aggressiveness. However, current PDAC models cultured in the lab are spherical. To better mimic PDAC, researchers now present a new model grown from single mouse PDAC cells in a 3D collagen matrix with a mix of specific chemicals. This produced a mass of tissue that organised itself into highly branched structures that replicated the architecture of PDAC in humans, as captured using fluorescence microscopy (pictured). Using this model, the team identified the different stages and characteristics of PDAC development, including changes in cell movements, proteins and molecules. This branching model, therefore, provides a useful replica to investigate the dynamics of PDAC.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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