|Most of the current cancer research is conducted using 2D cullular culture, which does not mimic the complex environment experienced by tumor cells inside the body. On the other hand, animal studies are commonly used but raise ethical concern. In vivo studies also do not enable real-time observation of at the cellular level, a prerequisite to obtain mechanistic insights about processes at play in the growth of tumour tissues.The lack of reliable tumour models is in part responsible for the failure of most new cancer therapeutics to translate clinically. This challenge is being recognized internationally and an ever growing research effort is directed at the development of more relevant in vitro tumour models.
Our research aims to bridge the gap between simplistic in vitro and inefficient in vivo models towards providing a novel way to observe not only the growth of solid tumours but also their response to treatments.
An important aspect is the availability for this research of state-of-the-art fabrication technologies through the Australian National Fabrication Facility. Inspired by the need to provide better tumour models and the will to reduce the reliance of animal studies, our current research focus on integrating blood and lymphatic vessels within our in vitro models as these are integral parts of functional tumour tissues (Dr Chia Chi Chien, ARC DECRA). Ultimately, these advanced tumour models will help biologists to better understand the growth and development of solid tumours as well as will provide new ways to screen for more potent treatments.
With the support of the NHMRC, our research also focus on elucidating the transport of diagnostic and therapeutic nanomedicine inside tumour tissues.