An impressive scientific achievement for researchers from Tel Aviv University who were able to print a complete and active cancerous tumor of the glioblastoma type in a three.dimensional printer. The printed tumor includes a bifurcated system of tubes through which blood cells and drugs can flow in a manner that mimics the true tumor. The tumor printout is based on samples of patients taken directly from the operating rooms in the neurosurgical department at Sourasky Hospital in Tel Aviv.

Having successfully printed the three.dimensional tumor, Prof. Sci.Painero and colleagues showed that with the help of the model, it would be possible to quickly and efficiently predict the most appropriate treatment for a specific patient, as opposed to cancer cells growing in petri dishes.


The study was led by Prof. Ronit Sachi.Painero of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Purple School of Neuroscience, which heads the Center for Cancer Biology Research, the Cancer and Nanomedicine Laboratory, and the Maurice Kahn 3D Printing Project. At Tel Aviv University, and the new technology was developed by doctoral student Lena Neufeld together with members of the laboratory.

An impressive achievement of the Faculty of Medicine | Photo: Tel Aviv University Spokeswoman

“90% of drugs fall in the clinical trials phase”

“Glioblastoma is the most deadly type of cancer in the central nervous system, and it accounts for most of the malignancies that originate in the brain,” says Prof. Sci.Painero. “In our previous study we first identified a protein called P.Selectin, which is secreted at the junction of glioblastoma cancer cells and microglia cells, the immune system cells in our brain. But we identified this protein in tumors removed in patient surgery – but not in the glioblastoma cells we grew in my lab, in two dimensions on petri dishes. “Drugs fall short of the clinical trials because they fail to replicate in humans the success achieved in the laboratory.“

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The new model includes three.dimensional printing of three.dimensional cancerous tissue, surrounded by an extracellular matrix and communicating with its environment through functioning and flowing blood vessels. “It’s not just the cancer cells themselves,” explains Prof. Sci.Painero, “but also the microenvironment cells in the brain, astrocytes, microglia and blood vessels connected to a microfluidic system – that is, a system that allows substances to flow into the tumor, such as blood cells and drugs. Inside a bioreactor we created in the lab, using a gel that we sampled and replicated from the extracellular matrix taken from the patient, thus simulating the tissue itself. After all, the brain does not have the same physical and mechanical properties of other organs such as skin, breast or bone. “It is mainly calcium; each tissue has different properties, and these properties affect the behavior of cancer cells and their ability to respond to drugs. Growing all types of cancer on the same plastic surface – far from simulating the clinical condition optimally.”

Cancer printing (Photo: University Spokeswoman T."A)
A significant step towards accurate treatment | Photo: Tel Aviv University Spokeswoman

Objective: To tailor a drug to each tumor specifically

According to Prof. Sci.Painero, this is an innovative approach that will also make it possible to develop new drugs as well as discover new targets for suitable drugs at a much faster rate than what exists today. Hopefully in the future, this technology will enable customized medicine for patients. “If I take a sample from a patient’s tissue, along with its extracellular matrix, I can print out a hundred different tumors from this sample and test many drugs and combinations to find out which drug or combination of drugs is more appropriate for that specific tumor. Alternatively, development allows us to test lots. Various compounds on a tumor printed on a 3D printer, and decide in which compound it is worth investing the resources to try and develop further as a drug up to the clinical stage.In addition, the innovative development gives us an unprecedented, timeless approach to in.depth three.dimensional tumor mimicking the tumor That we find in the patients in the best way. “

Glioblastoma It is a violent disease in part because it is unexpected: if the heterogeneous cancer cells are injected separately into a model, in some, the tumor will be dormant and in some, an active tumor will develop rapidly. It makes a lot of sense that we humans can die in good return without even knowing we have had such ‘dormant’ tumors. In contrast, on the plastic plate in the lab, all the tumors grow at the same rate and spread in the same way. In the tumor that the researchers printed on the 3D printer, the rate of tumor development is consistent with the development in patients or model animals.

By Editor

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