3D printed tumor model shows interaction with immune cells

3D printed tumor model shows interaction with immune cells

Around a glioblastoma, a very aggressive brain tumor, cells of the human immune system start helping the tumor instead of attacking it. To do research on what happens in the interaction of these cells, scientists of the University of Twente now created a 3D-bioprinted mini model of the brain. Compared to existing lab models, the results using this 3D model match patient data much better. It will thus be a valuable way of testing new drugs, and it will reduce the number of animal trials.

Immunotherapy, stimulating our own immune system in the treatment of cancer or other diseases, gets a lot of attention these days, and led to a Nobel Prize in 2018. At the same time, some immune cells show contrary action, they develop as accomplices of tumor cells. That is the case with the cells around a glioblastoma: so called macrophages, which infiltrate the tumor and help it spreading. Using the newly developed 3D model, a few millimeters in diameter, this mechanism can be studied far better than using 2D slices or using animal research: the results show a striking resemblance with actual patient data.

Photo
The size of the model, the red part is the tumor.
Source: University of Twente

Thanks to developments in 3D bioprinting, the UT researchers could create a miniature brain model representing the delicate tissue around the tumor, including the macrophages. While printing, space was reserved for the tumor cells. It is possible to remove the tumor as a whole, for studying the effect on the remaining cells. The current model does not include nerve cells or blood veins: this would complicate the study of cell interaction a lot. It is, however, possible to add new cell types step by step, getting nearer to a realistic brain. In that case, one of the characteristics of glioblastoma, spreading like an octopus and thus getting very difficult to be removed operatively, may be demonstrated in a model as well.

The basic ‘tumor micro environment’ (TME) that was printed now, already is a very valuable source of information. “For certain tumor markers, we see that they are up to a 1,000 times higher than we observe in 2D studies. This approaches realistic values far better”, says Marcel Heinrich. This clearly has an effect on medication as well: in the past, treatment that worked well in animals and 2D-lab experiments, sometimes failed in clinical trials. The 3D model shows why it isn’t working, because the dosage should be much higher, for example. One of the most challenging aspects is finding out if we can give the macrophages their original functionality, so they start attacking tumor cells again.

The promising results of a basic tumor microenvironment indicate that it can be used for other types of tumors as well. A major advantage is that this new 3D model will reduce the need for animal testing.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Related articles

Active glioblastoma tumor 3D-bioprinted for the first time

Active glioblastoma tumor 3D-bioprinted for the first time

Researchers at Tel Aviv University have printed an entire active and viable glioblastoma tumor using a 3D printer.

Imaging technique to study 3D printed brain tumors

Imaging technique to study 3D printed brain tumors

Researchers demonstrated a methodology that combines the bioprinting and imaging of glioblastoma cells in a way that more closely models what happens inside the human body.

Researchers use bioprinting to create nose cartilage

Researchers use bioprinting to create nose cartilage

Researchers have used 3D bioprinting technology to create custom-shaped cartilage. They aim to make it easier for surgeons to safely restore the features of skin cancer patients living with nasal cartilage defects after surgery.

Breast cancer-on-a-chip tests immunotherapy drugs

Breast cancer-on-a-chip tests immunotherapy drugs

Researchers have successfully designed and tested a system for rapid testing of large numbers of potential immunotherapy drugs.

First-ever living 3D-printed aneurysm

First-ever living 3D-printed aneurysm

Using 3D printing, researchers replicated an aneurysm in vitro and performed an endovascular repair procedure on the printed aneurysm.

Using bioprinting and computer modeling to examine cancer spread

Using bioprinting and computer modeling to examine cancer spread

Scientists have paired 3D-printed, living human brain vasculature with advanced computational flow simulations to better understand tumor cell attachment to blood vessels.

Machine learning enhances brain tumour diagnosis

Machine learning enhances brain tumour diagnosis

A new AI approach classifies a common type of brain tumour into low or high grades with almost 98% accuracy, researchers report.

Surgeons successfully treat brain aneurysms using a robot

Surgeons successfully treat brain aneurysms using a robot

Using a robot to treat brain aneurysms is feasible and could allow for improved precision when placing stents, coils and other devices.

AI & MRI look into the genome of brain tumors

AI & MRI look into the genome of brain tumors

Researcher have developed a computer method that uses MRI and machine learning to rapidly forecast genetic mutations in glioma tumors,

Popular articles

Subscribe to Newsletter