Brown University scientists have created the first three-dimensional living tissue model, complete with surrounding blood vessels, to analyze the effectiveness of therapeutics to combat brain tumors. The 3-D model gives medical researchers more and better information than Petri dish tissue cultures.
The researchers created a glioma, or brain tumor, and the network of blood vessels that surrounds it. In a series of experiments, the team showed that iron-oxide nanoparticles ferrying the chemical tumstatin penetrated the blood vessels that sustain the tumor with oxygen and nutrients. The iron-oxide nanoparticles are important, because they are readily taken up by endothelial cells and can be tracked by magnetic resonance imaging.
Previous experiments have shown that tumstatin was effective at blocking endothelial cell growth in gliomas. The tests by the Brown researchers took it to another level by confirming, in a 3-D, living environment, the iron-oxide nanoparticles’ ability to reach blood vessels surrounding a glioma as well as tumstatin’s ability to penetrate endothelial cells.