Science Market Update

UIUC Researchers Grow Extra Tumors

Posted by Sam Asher on Thu, Oct 08, 2015

As the field of regenerative medicine rapidly progresses, personalized medicine is becoming more and more common in the life science headlines. In the Science Market Update alone, we’ve witnessed researchers grow replicas of human hearts at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, stomachs and intestines at the University of Cincinnati, and even brains at The Oh­io State University.­ Now a research team at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign is following suit by growing a tumor outside of the body.

At first glance, the new study may not seem to fit in with the pattern of personalized medicine. The idea of growing a personalized, replacement heart or brain is certainly appealing (if controversial), but why would anyone want to have an extra tumor?

kilianVC.jpgThe answer: so that your doctor can examine your extra tumor instead of poking around at the one inside you. It is very difficult for surgeons and researchers to study a tumor inside the body because there are several complicated reactions going on all around it. But on the other hand, taking tumor cells and growing them in a dish isn’t informative enough. That’s why UIUC professor Kristopher Killian (image left, courtesy UIUC) designed a three dimensional synthetic tissue-like environment in which to grow tumors and study them in an isolated version of their “natural habitat”. He sees the invention as a handy compromise between studying tumors in the body and in the petri dish.

“The long-term vision would be: A patient goes in and finds out they've been diagnosed with some sort of solid tumor,” Dr. Kilian said in a new University of Illinois article. “You take a biopsy of those cells, you put it into this device, grow them and see how they respond to different treatments.” 

In biology, researchers are always experimenting to find what treatment works best against a particular threat. In the case of tumors, such testing in the body is risky and testing in the dish is potentially inaccurate. The new device provides a way to exhaustively perform meaningful tests on cancer cells in order to define their behavior and weaknesses.

“This is really the first time that it's been demonstrated that you can use a rapid methodology like this to spatially define cancer cells and macrophages,” says Dr. Kilian. “That's important, because once you have that architecture, then you can ask fundamental biological questions.”

The National Science Foundation and the American Cancer Society Illinois Division supported this work.  More funding information related to the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and the research it conducts can be found using the link below:

urbana funding

If you are a UIUC researcher or laboratory supplier, and would like to boost awareness of your products and increase scientific sales, plan to attend Biotechnology Calendar, Inc.'s annual Urbana-Champaign BioResearch Product Faire™, currently scheduled for  April 12, 2016 on the University of Illinois campus. If you’re in the area and don't want to wait that long, we'll have our Chicago BioResearch Product Faire™ tomorrow, on October 9, 2015Biotechnology Calendar, Inc. has been bringing life science research trade shows to top research campuses for 20 years now. If you’d like to attend a show closer to home, please see our 2015 schedule of events or our brand new 2016 schedule of events.

Tags: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Urbana-Champaign, 2015, UIUrbana, BioResearch Product Faire Event, IL

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