May 28, 2024

Researchers Use Vibrating Cell Phone Technology to Develop 3D Tumor Spheroids for Anti-Cancer Drug Screening

In a breakthrough study, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital have utilized the vibrating motor commonly found in cell phones to develop a low-cost device that can generate uniform tumor spheroids. These 3D models of tumors facilitate more accurate drug screening and testing, providing valuable insights for improved cancer treatment.

Cancer cells within a tumor can experience different microenvironments depending on their location. Cells in the core of the tumor often face hypoxia and nutrient deprivation, which can affect their growth rates and responses to drugs. Traditionally, studying these variations in a lab setting has been challenging and expensive. Conventional methods for creating tumor spheroids have been time-consuming and produced inconsistent results.

However, using a coin-vibrating motor commonly found in cell phones, the researchers were able to develop a simple, do-it-yourself (DIY) device that can reliably generate uniform tumor spheroids. The cost of the device is less than $7, making it accessible and affordable.

By vibrating a suspension of cancer cells flowing out of a fine nozzle, the team was able to create nearly 4,000 equally sized droplets per minute. These droplets, consisting of cancer cells, aggregated to form tumor spheroids with hypoxic cores. These spheroids exhibited proliferation markers typical of in vivo tumors, making them more representative of real-life cancer growth.

Furthermore, the tumor spheroids demonstrated responses to chemotherapy that are commonly observed in clinical settings. The cancer cells at the hypoxic core were found to drive tumor survival and drug resistance. This finding is crucial for understanding drug efficacy and resistance mechanisms, potentially leading to the development of more effective treatments.

The authors of the study believe that their DIY device could revolutionize cancer research by offering a low-cost and reliable method for preclinical testing of anti-cancer drugs. “The cost of devices often acts as a barrier to cancer research,” said corresponding author Hae Lin Jang, Ph.D. “Low-cost, simple-to-operate systems like ours are essential to democratize cancer research and make science more accessible.”

The simplicity and affordability of the system also enable high-throughput drug screening, making it easier to test a large number of compounds and combinations. This is particularly valuable in the early stages of drug development when multiple candidates need to be evaluated quickly and efficiently.

In conclusion, the development of this vibrating cell phone technology for the creation of tumor spheroids opens up new opportunities in cancer research. By providing a more accurate representation of tumor microenvironments and drug responses, this method can contribute to the improvement of anti-cancer drug development and personalized treatment strategies.

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1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it