Tissue engineering is an interdisciplinary field that applies the principles of engineering (materials science and biomedical engineering) and the life sciences (biochemistry, genetics, cell and molecular biology) to develop biological substitutes of human body parts to improve, replace or restore their biological functions. Tissue engineering started as a research field dedicated to regeneration of skin, bone, and cartilage. More recently tissue engineering is being investigated for reconstruction of more complex, vascularised tissues, such as the liver or pancreas and development of novel 3D models of solid tumours.
One of the major differences between 2D monolayers and 3D tumour models is the presence of extracellular matrix. Extra cellular matrix binds to cell surface adhesion molecules such as integrin and plays a vital role in development of tumours.
Another important factor in extra cellular matrix gels is their microstructure. Gel microstructure is often hard to control as it depends on a number of factors including crosslinking agent, temperature and pH. Due to these and other limitations of naturally derived gels synthetic hydrogel-like biomaterials and scaffolds have been developed.
3D tumour models are not only ideal systems to model tumour cell behaviour and drug response but also novel candidates for elucidation of fundamental understanding of biological processes. Additionally, 3D tumour models are also ideal for studying the influence of biomechanical forces on tumour formation and homeostasis.
Last date updated on July, 2014