Growing a Tumour in a Pearl Drop

by | Jul 2, 2012

Living cells within a liquid marble can form aggregate structures know as cancer cell spheroids that can be used as model tumours.

Research into the physiology of tumours and malignant tissue cultures is essential to further the understanding of the mechanisms that govern the development, progression, and treatment of cancers. Australian Scientists led by Wei Shen have developed a novel system for growing tumour like structure within liquid marbles, which are made by gently rolling a drop of liquid on a bed of hydrophobic powder so that the powder particles coat the liquid surface. The formation of liquid marbles allows a drop of liquid to be moved and manipulated in a way that is not usually possible. These non-wetting drops can then be collapsed as and when required. Previously, the use of liquid marble as miniature reactors in which chemical and biological processes can take place was explored.

Schematic of cancer cell spheroids growing in a liquid marble; powder-covered liquid marble; fluorescent image showing Hep G2 cells inside a liquid marble.

Now,  for the first time, this work demonstrates that living cells within a liquid marble can form aggregate structures know as cancer cell spheroids. These three dimensional clusters of cells are closely resemble the physiology of tumours in vivo and can be used to investigate effects that are not accessible using two dimensional cell cultures.

The research was recently published in the new journal Advanced Healthcare Materials.

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