Before being tested in animals or humans, most cancer drugs are evaluated in tumor cells grown in a lab dish.
Before being tested in animals or humans, most cancer drugs are evaluated in tumor cells grown in a lab dish. However, in recent years, there has been a growing realization that the environment in which these cells are grown does not accurately mimic the natural environment of a tumor, and that this discrepancy could produce inaccurate results.
In a new study, MIT biologists analyzed the composition of the interstitial fluid that normally surrounds pancreatic tumors and found that its nutrient composition is different from that of the culture medium normally used to grow cancer cells. It also differs from blood, which feeds the interstitial fluid and removes waste products.
The findings suggest that growing cancer cells in a culture medium more similar to this fluid could help researchers better predict how experimental drugs will affect cancer cells, says Matthew Vander Heiden, an associate professor of biology at MIT and a member of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.
Read more at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Image: Pancreatic cancer cells (nuclei in blue) growing as a sphere encased in membranes (red). By growing cancer cells in the lab, researchers can study factors that promote and prevent the formation of deadly tumors. CREDIT: Min Yu (Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at USC)