They are developing a “bioink” for the 3D bioprinting of tumors

Image of bioink development process with pig tissue.

A CIBER-BBN team from the Institute of Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) has developed a new breast cancer model which recreates the complexity of the composition of these tumors. se is a “bioink” made of pig mammary tissue from which the cells have been removed and which serves as the basis for the growth of human cancer cells.

The work, led by Elisabeth Engel, principal researcher of the group CIBER-BBN/IBEC Biomaterials for regenerative therapies and professor at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC), was published in the scientific journal ‘ACS Appl. Mother. Interfaces’. Despite the high incidence of breast cancer, it remains a challenge for doctors and researchers, because due to the high complexity of the tumor tissue and the tumor “microenvironment”, it is very difficult to reproduce the real conditions in the laboratory for study and treatment. .

The team used breast tissue from female pigs, taking advantage of the high similarity between the genomes of pigs and humans, and that it is a tissue that can be obtained easily and in large quantities to recreate the matrix extracellular that forms the tumor microenvironment. By different procedures removed pig cells from breast tissue, leaving only the ECM. This material, which they call biotintedis the one that will serve as the basis for the following steps and the tumor development in the laboratory.

“We were able to develop, for the first time, a bioink from breast tissue devoid of its cells capable of mimicking the mechanical and biochemical characteristics of the extracellular matrix of the human breast”, explains Bárbara Blanco-Fernández, first author of the study.

Manufacture of tumor models

Once this bioink, formed by the ECM of pig mammary tissue, was obtained, the team used it to generate a human mammary tumor by 3D bioprinting. To do this, biotint was added human cancer cells, factors such as type 1 collagen (present in large quantities in breast tumors) and other components that maintain the ideal structure and hardness of the tumor. This mixture is print in 3d and after a few days of incubation, under adequate and perfectly controlled conditions, a human mammary tumor is obtained.

The new bioink developed highlights the importance of recreating the complexity of the extracellular matrix and at the same time the great potential of these materials for the fabrication of tumor models by 3D bioprinting for the study of cancer. In addition, this model opens the doors to development of more effective therapies and personalized treatmentsbecause tumors can be made from cells of patients.

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