A scientific achievement for researchers at Tel Aviv University: printing an entire active and viable glioblastoma tumor using a 3D printer. The 3D-bioprinted tumor includes a complex system of blood vessel-like tubes through which blood cells and drugs can flow, simulating a real tumor.

The study was led by Prof. Ronit Satchi-Fainaro, Sackler Faculty of Medicine and Sagol School of Neuroscience, Director of the Cancer Biology Research Center, Head of the Cancer Research and Nanomedicine Laboratory and Director of the Morris Kahn 3D-BioPrinting for Cancer Research Initiative, at Tel Aviv University. The new technology was developed by PhD student Lena Neufeld, together with other researchers at Prof. Satchi-Fainaro's laboratory:  Eilam Yeini, Noa Reisman, Yael Shtilerman, Dr. Dikla Ben-Shushan, Sabina Pozzi, Dr. Galia Tiram, Dr. Anat Eldar-Boock and Dr. Shiran Farber.  

The 3D-bioprinted models are based on samples from patients, taken directly from operating rooms at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center. The new study's results were published today in the prestigious journal Science Advances.

Glioblastoma is the most lethal cancer of the central nervous system, accounting for most brain malignancies. In a previous study, we identified a protein called P-Selectin, produced when glioblastoma cancer cells encounter microglia – cells of the brain's immune system. We found that this protein is responsible for a failure in the microglia, causing them to support rather than attack the deadly cancer cells, helping the cancer spread. However, we identified the protein in tumors removed during surgery, but not in glioblastoma cells grown on 2D plastic petri dishes in our lab. The reason is that cancer, like all tissues, behaves very differently on a plastic surface than it does in the human body. Approximately 90% of all experimental drugs fail at the clinical stage because the success achieved in the lab is not reproduced in patients.
Prof. Satchi-Fainaro.

To address this problem, the research team led by Prof. Satchi-Fainaro and PhD student Lena Neufeld, recipient of the prestigious Dan David Fellowship, created the first 3D-bioprinted model of a glioblastoma tumor, which includes 3D cancer tissue surrounded by extracellular matrix, which communicates with its microenvironment via functional blood vessels.

According to Prof. Satchi-Fainaro, this innovative approach will also enable the development of new drugs, as well as discovery of new drug targets – at a much faster rate than today. Hopefully, in the future, this technology will facilitate personalized medicine for patients.

If we take a sample from a patient's tissue, together with its extracellular matrix, we can 3D-bioprint from this sample 100 tiny tumors and test many different drugs in various combinations to discover the optimal treatment for this specific tumor. Alternately, we can test numerous compounds on a 3D-bioprinted tumor and decide which is most promising for further development and investment as a potential drug. But perhaps the most exciting aspect is finding novel druggable target proteins and genes in cancer cells – a very difficult task when the tumor is inside the brain of a human patient or model animal. Our innovation gives us unprecedented access, with no time limits, to 3D tumors mimicking better the clinical scenario, enabling optimal investigation.
Prof. Satchi-Fainaro


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See also https://english.tau.ac.il/news/3d_printing_brain_cancer



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