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Jaap den Toonder (TU/e) participates in Finnish cancer-on-chip consortium

Wednesday, 23 August

PESCADoR: PhEnotypic Screening for CAncer DRug Discovery

hDMT scientist Jaap den Toonder (TU/e) participates in a consortium that has obtained funding from the Academy of Finland (total 990 kEuro) to develop an experimental platform that recapitulates the architecture of human cancers for testing anti-cancer therapies as well as means to specifically deliver compounds to the cancer cells.

Project information

Title: (PESCADoR) PhEnotypic Screening for CAncer Drug Discovery

Description: This consortium aims to develop an experimental platform that recapitulates the architecture of human cancers. Three-dimensional "spheroid" cultures, lab-on-a-chip, so-called microfluidics and 3D bioprinting solutions have already contributed to physiologically much more relevant model systems - compared to standard two-dimensional monolayer cultures. However, such models are not yet more predictive for the outcome of treatment in clinical practice! There is still a high demand for better models that recapitulate or mimic the response of functional and living tissues, not just single cells, to anti-cancer therapies. Ideally, better platforms for testing anti-cancer therapies should also provide a possibility for fast microscopic imaging. This imaging-based evaluation of drug effects is entirely based on structural information. With a platform like this, we can not only test drugs, but will also have means to specifically deliver compounds to the cancer cells.

Project team

PI's: Prof.dr. Matthias Nees (University of Turku), prof.dr.Cecilia Sahlgren (Åbo Akademi University and TU/e), Jessica Rosenholm (Åbo Akademi University).

Academic partners: Prof. Jaap den Toonder (TU/e); Dr. Haim Barr, Weizmann Institute of Science, Maurice and Vivienne Wohl Institute for Drug Discovery; Lauri Eklund University of Oulu, Tuomas Mirtti, University of Helsinki, Matti Poutanen, University of Turku; Peter Boström, Turku University Hospital; Michael Courtney, University of Turku; Ingunn Holen, University of Sheffield, Department of Oncology & Metabolism.

Private partners: Pharmatest Services, DelSiTech

One of the essential components in the Cancer on Chip platform is the extracellular matrix that forms the direct micro-environment of the tumor. Electrospinning of ECM polymers allows fine-tuning of the ECM morphology to mimic the organization of the ECM of the tumour in the patient. The SEM images show a polymer based isotropic and anisotropic 3D fibre structures. (d-g) 3D spheroids of patient derived prostate cancer grown in collagen gels. The cancer cells are labelled with fluorescent NPs. The images to the left (d,e) show the NP label and the images to the right (f,g) show a merged image of the fluorescent image to the left and a light microscopy image to demonstrate uniform labelling of the spheroids.

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