Posted: August 8, 2009

3D culture models could improve cancer research

(Nanowerk News) A Queensland University of Technology (QUT) researcher who has come up with a three-dimensional (3D) technology platform for biomedical research has received early-stage funding to accelerate the process of development to commercialisation.
Professor Dietmar W Hutmacher, a researcher with QUT's Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI), said he hoped the 3D culture models developed could be used by pharmaceutical companies and research laboratories to enhance testing of treatments within a variety of areas, including cancer research.
"The culture system could potentially be used during all forms of cancer research, as well as infectious diseases, and basically any field which relies on cell cultures as a platform for the discovery of new drugs, or to test new treatments," he said.
"It is a logical and practical tool which can really help researchers to get results which reflect much better what is going on in the body."
Professor Hutmacher has spent the past 12 months developing and improving scaffolds and matrices for the 3D cell culture, and it has already been used in a number of IHBI research projects.
The tissue-engineered constructs and hydrogels mimic the body's biological tissues and provide a model to analyse the interactions and stresses that cells experience.
The cell culture can be used in experiments in cancer research, immunology and infectious diseases to more effectively predict the effect on the body than conventional two-dimensional (2D) culture.
"Almost everything in the human body is 3D, so having a 3D cell culture system to test in makes it more realistic than the traditional 2D culture models which are widely used in the biomedical sciences," said Professor Hutmacher.
"We want to mimic what the cells see and feel inside the human body, so that the environment researchers are testing closely match that of the actual human body."
The $99,000 funding is a Proof of Concept investment from QUT's commercialisation arm bluebox , and will be used to accelerate the design of new scaffolds built by electrospinning techniques to enhance its features and make it more user-friendly.
Professor Hutmacher, who saw another project through to commercialisation when he was working in Singapore, said it was always exciting to be part of the journey from the bench to the market.
"I think it is great that QUT has the Proof of Concept fund, which allows researchers to go a step further and think about ways to get their ideas and ultimately their products developed."
The Proof of Concept fund is designed to help get projects to a point where they are ready to commercialisation.
Others to have received the Proof of Concept funding include Jonathan Harris, also from IHBI, and Tony Maine, from the Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering.
Professor Hutmacher said he would also love to hear from other cancer or immunology researchers in Brisbane or throughout Australia who are keen to collaborate with him on this 3D culture model.
Source: Queensland University of Technology
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