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Blossoming Development

Bioengineered matrix enables life-like growth of ovarian cancer in the lab

13 August 2021

Blossoming Development

These blossom-like shapes are the result of a new approach which will allow scientists to test novel treatments for ovarian cancer. Traditionally, new cancer drugs were tested on cancer cells grown in a single-layer. Unfortunately, less than 5% of drugs identified this way go on to become effective treatments. The problem is that a flat, 2D culture is a poor mimic for the spherical 3D structures usually found in ovarian cancers. The ‘blossoms’ shown here are ovarian tumours growing in 3D suspension in an innovative hydrogel matrix. At their centre (highlighted in blue) are tumour cells, while in pink is a protein called F-actin which forms a network around the tumour cells and the green ‘leaves’ are non-cancer cells. In single layer cultures the last two elements are missing but are both essential for 3D tumour growth. This more life-like culture method will allow faster identification of effective therapies.

Written by Julie Webb

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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