3D cell culture models

Research to identify new anticancer drugs is currently facing significant challenges, as only 5% of compounds that show efficacy in pre-clinical development go on to become licensed drugs. Traditionally 2D cell culture models have been employed to evaluate drug candidates in the early phases of the drug discovery process, however, there is increasing evidence that cells grown in 2D monolayers do not accurately reflect the biological complexity of tumours.

The requirement for better in vitro models that are compatible with high throughput screening campaigns has led to the development of 3D cell culture models, especially muliticellular spheroids, which retain many of the morphological and genetic traits of tumours.

The challenge is two-fold: To get the throughput required for screening the first challenge is to set up a large number of identical 3D cell cultures, the second challenge is to obtain fast, automated assay readouts of these more complex assays. TTP Labtech’s acumen® Cellista is ideally suited for the rapid (5 minutes/plate) high throughput  analysis of tumour spheroids and colonies, without the need to acquire a Z-stack of images.

Staining of tumour spheroids/colonies followed by imaging on the acumen® Cellista allows the determination of a range of parameters, such as spheroid number, area and volume, and also provides a measure of cell viability following drug treatment.

acumen has been successfully used to describe the formation of multicellular spheroids on:

  • ultra-low attachment plates
  • hanging drop plates: see Horman, S. et al. (2013), J Biomol Screen
  • colonies in semi-solid agarose: see Bowen, W. & Wylie, P. (2007), Clin Lab Med 

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