3D Cell Culture: The next Frontier

Cells grown in monolayer fail to accurately model endogenous biochemical processes and disease phenotypes, according to Ha Nam Nguyen, a postdoctoral fellow at John Hopkins and a founder of 3Dnamics. This is important because, as he points out, “This discrepancy could cause the majority of preclinical drug candidates to fail in downstream clinical trials.”

Mark Rothenberg, manager of scientific training and education at Corning, offers a similar point of view, saying, “More biologically relevant models can lead to higher success rates for drug compound testing, a faster path to market, and reduced development costs.”

Unlike traditional cell culture, grown on plastic in two-dimensions, three-dimensional (#3D) culture recapitulates conditions cells experience in vivo. Even the simple spheroid model compensates for many deficiencies seen in monolayer culture. These structures can develop gradients of oxygen, nutrients, metabolites, and soluble signals, creating a diverse cell population. They also experience physiological cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix (#ECM) interactions.
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