The new method allows an accurate model of glioblastoma to be obtained in the laboratory in its natural cellular environment.
Glioblastoma is an incredibly aggressive and dangerous brain tumor. Its treatment is extremely difficult, requires the use of radiation and chemotherapy, with the harmful effects of which the weakened body of the patient does not always cope with. No wonder doctors are trying to fight glioblastoma even with the help of dangerous viruses, including Ebola and poliovirus.
Scientists are actively researching this type of cancer and looking for new ways to fight it. However, for this it is necessary to use tissue samples taken from patients and grow them in vitro, "in a test tube." Under these conditions, glioblastoma often behaves quite differently than in a “natural” environment. For example, in the brain, a tumor produces a protein called P-selectin, which stimulates neighboring microglial cells not to oppose it, but, on the contrary, to maintain and supply nutrients like healthy neurons.
“We find protein in tumors removed surgically, but not in glioblastoma, which is grown on flat Petri dishes in the laboratory,” said Ronit Satchi-Fainaro of Tel Aviv University. - The reason is that cancer, like normal tissue, behaves completely differently on a plastic surface than in a human body. About 90 percent of all experimental drugs are discarded because successful laboratory results are not replicated in living patients."
That is why Sachi-Fainaro and her colleagues decided to create a more adequate laboratory model of glioblastoma. To do this, they turned to 3D printing with living cells, and used astrocytes, microglia and the tumor itself as "ink", samples of which were taken from a volunteer patient. In addition, the cells lining the vessels were used to create a circulatory network, and extracellular matrix proteins obtained from the same patient. An account of this work is presented in an article published in the journal Science Advances.
The 3D bioprinter has made it possible to recreate glioblastoma in the natural environment of matrix proteins and capillaries. Scientists tested the model using P-selectin, adding its inhibitor to the medium. This led to a slowdown in tumor growth in vitro, whereas no such effect was observed in conventional glioblastoma models simply grown in a Petri dish. Genome sequencing of the printed tumor also showed that its DNA is closer to "natural" than conventional models, which change quickly when on a flat surface.
The authors note that their technology can become not only a more accurate tool for the study of glioblastoma, but also a means of individual therapy. “You can take tissue samples from a patient along with the extracellular matrix, and then use a 3D bioprinter to print hundreds of tiny tumors to check which drugs and in which combinations will be most effective in this particular case,” explains Ronit Sachi-Finearo.