Sartorius eBook - 14

THE FUTURE OF DRUG DISCOVERY: LIVE 3D CELL ANALYSIS

exposure to oxygen and nutrients, the spheroids

approach of conducting drug screenings using

mimic what might happen in a tumor: Some cells

spheroids. "It's unlikely we would have discovered

are on the outside and some are on the inside.

this connection using standard 2D methods," Dr.

"In the past, KRAS has been a very tricky
protein to target. People have spent several

Scampavia says.
"From our perspective, this is a proof-of-

decades trying, but so far there has been little

principle study," adds Dr. Kissil. "It shows you can

success," says Joseph Kissil, Ph.D., a professor

look at libraries of drugs that have already been

at Scripps Research Institute and the other

approved for other diseases, and find drugs that

co-corresponding author. "The KRAS protein is

may also work for cancer. In theory, you could use

relatively small, and that's made it hard to attack

this screening method for any line of cancer cells,

it directly. But the method of screening that we

and any mutation you want."

used in this study allowed us to come at the
question in a different way."
The investigators performed a phenotypic

"We would love to use this research to create a
pipeline for new oncology drugs," says Dr. Spicer.
"Many of the most promising compounds may

screen, looking for drugs that had an effect on

be overlooked with 2D screening. This study

cell growth. "We came at this in an unbiased way,"

provides direct evidence that screening for drugs

Dr. Kissil explains. "We were not trying to design

using 3D structures of cancer cells may be more

something to attack a specific part of the KRAS

appropriate."

protein. We were just looking for something that
acted on some part of the pathway that's driving
cell growth."
The compound the scientists identified,
Proscillaridin A, is similar to a class of drugs used

ADDITIONAL CONTENT
Web article: Scaffold-based 3D spheroid models,
in which tumor cell aggregates are grown
in ECM scaffolds, such as Matrigel®,
recapitulate 3D physiologic growth and

to treat some heart conditions. Although the

interactions of tumor cells with the

team says this particular drug is unlikely to be

microenvironment.

developed as a cancer treatment, it validates the

14 |

GENengnews.com


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Sartorius eBook

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