A New Model; a New Hope

Shay Soker, PhD, has long believed the classic two-dimensional model of testing a drug for cancer-fighting potential—growing cancer cells in a petri dish and testing possible agents against them—fails to mimic the three-dimensional nature of a tumor mass within the body’s tissue.

So, Soker and his colleagues at the Institute are building a bioengineered, three-dimensional tumor model that not only mimics a real tumor, but also the stroma (the soft tissue around the tumor) and the proteins that serve as communication lines between the tumor and healthy cells.

Because their model has the potential to show how a tumor metastasizes, the work may allow industry partners to seek a therapeutic agent that targets communication lines to block the cancer cells from traveling.

“If you want to win a war, what you want is to make sure the enemy units cannot communicate,” says Soker. “If you block communication, you’ve taken a great step toward defeating your enemy.”

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