Richard M. Eglen, Ph.D
It is now recognized that target and compound identification, as well as validation, are better conducted using cells with physiologically relevant phenotypes and genotypes. This assertion has accelerated the adoption of primary cells, stem cells, or patient-specific cells in cellular research, in general; and drug discovery, in particular.
Technological improvements in three-dimensional (3D) cell culture technology, as a means to better mimic in vivo physiology, have accelerated recently—not only in the areas of cancer and neurological research, but also for the assessment of compound metabolic and toxicological liabilities. Furthermore, 3D cell culture can provide novel approaches to the scale-up and manufacture of biologically based medicines, including those used in immuno-and stem cell-based therapies.
In this presentation, the existing and future impact of 3D cell culture technology on fundamental research, and drug discovery and manufacture will be addressed, particularly in the context of using phenotypically relevant cells. Specifically, it will discuss the potential for spheroids, organoids, scaffolds, and hydrogels in cellular research and compound identification, screening, and development.
Future directions will also be covered, including organs-on-chips, hydrostatic flow technologies, microfluidics, and 3D bioprinting. Some of these approaches will allow for real-time observation of cellular responsiveness to novel compounds and drugs … boldly taking the researcher into a fourth dimension of 3D cell culture!