Strathclyde tumour testing tool aims to boost experimentation 50 times
31 Jul 2022
Testing on solid tumour samples could be increased 50 times, say scientists led by the University of Strathclyde who have developed a new miniaturised platform tool.
Created to determine the effectiveness of Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy and other new immunotherapies, the screening tool is designed to overcome the limitations of existing technologies.
While traditional 2D models failed to reproduce tumours’ macroenvironment to a sufficiently sophistciated level, models based on patients’ own tumours remain costly and labour intensive, said the researchers.
Said team leader Dr Michele Zangoni: “We are providing a tool for research and development labs to conduct tests before proceeding to clinical trials, which uses fewer resources and can scale up at reasonable cost.”
“CAR-T cell development is expensive, and patient derived tissue is a limited resource. Our aim is to enable 20 to 50 times more experiments to be performed in these conditions.”
Zagnoni, Reader in Strathclyde Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, together with PhD graduate Karla Paterson and researchers at the University of Glasgow and the city’s Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute recently published their work in the IEEE Open Journal of Engineering in Medicine and Biology.
Their miniaturised platform screened 3D tumour models, enabling visualisation and quantification of how CAR-T cells rapidly targeted, broke up and killed cancer cells without significant harm to other cells. The research identified that although chemotherapy treatment did not act specifically on cancer cells when used alone, specificity was enhanced when combined with CAR-T cell treatment.
Zagnoni added: “There are particular challenges with evaluating solid tumours, not just cancerous cells but those surrounding them. We are developing a technology platform which could accelerate the development of therapies and provide models which are much more representative of what happens in the body than what is currently available.”
The technology is to be commercialised by ScreenIn3D, which was co-founded by CEO Zangoni. The pre-spinout company was created in 2018 with support fromStrathclyde’s Innovation and Industry Engagement team.
Pic: supplied by research funder AMS Biotechnology Europe