To enable large-scale screenings, scientists have developed a model, using a three-dimensional cellular platform, for simultaneous and rapid testing of multiple drug compounds. According to the researchers, this will uncover new and personalised therapy against cervical cancer.
The study, led by Oregon State University (OSU) College of Engineering, US, described the method to depart from the historic means of testing drugs which used a single layer of cells.
“Two-dimensional monolayer models aren’t able to fully replicate the tumor microenvironment since nothing in our bodies resembles a single layer of cells on a piece of hard plastic,” said Kaitlin Fogg, lead researcher and assistant professor, OSU College of Engineering, as quoted by news agency PTI.
“Cancer metastasis and the creation of new blood vessels the tumours need are inherently three-dimensional processes and need to move through materials that better resemble the body,” said Fogg. The findings are published in the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research.
Many 3D testing techniques don’t match up very well with standard high-throughput screening methods because of their reliance on plates with 24 wells, Fogg said. High-throughput screening, or HTS, is the automated, simultaneous testing of the therapeutic effectiveness potential of large numbers of different molecules. 96-well plates are the norm for high-throughput screening.
This method described by the study makes use of plates the size of large-scale ice cube trays to hold the compounds to be tested, thereby, accelerating drug analysis because vast “libraries” of compounds can be screened quickly and cost effectively.
“Our goals were to develop and validate a tumour in a dish model that approximates the cervical cancer tumour microenvironment, interfaces with existing high-throughput methods, and can evaluate cancer invasion and blood vessel formation over time,” Fogg said.
The model enables the evaluation of hundreds of drugs at the same time and the rapid identification of those able to thwart cancer invasion and the formation of new blood vessels, she said.
“That’s important because at present there are no drugs used specifically to treat cervical cancer,” said Fogg.
Globally, cervical cancer is the fourth most frequently occurring cancer in women, with about 600,000 new cases diagnosed each year, according to the World Health Organization.
Cervical cancer is most often diagnosed in women ages 35-44 and rarely develops in women younger than 20. More than 20 per cent of cases occur in women over 65, with most of those in women who did not undergo regular screening for cervical cancer.
“The platform captures cell behaviour in the tumour microenvironment and accounts for patient to patient variability,” said Fogg.
(With inputs from PTI)