Cell culture systems firm TAP Biosystems (formerly The Automation Partnership) and researchers at University College London (U.K.) signed a collaboration to develop three-dimensional (3D) cell culture tumor models for drug discovery, based on the firm’s Raft™ (Real Architecture for 3D Tissue™) 3D cell culture system. The aim is to use the Raft platform to generate a culture system that mirrors the microarchitecture of solid tumors, using cocultures of cancer cells, fibroblast, and endothelial cells seeded into a collagen gel.

TAP says that under the correct conditions, fibroblasts in the cocultures will aggregate around the cancer cells and form connective tissue, and endothelial cells fuse to generate rudimentary vasculature and promote angiogenic growth. “Our ultimate aim is to engineer reproducible 3D tissues to test the efficacy of compounds and biologics to treat solid tumors in diseases such as breast, bowel, and bladder cancer,” comments Marilena Loizidou, M.D., senior lecturer at UCL’s Division of Surgery and Interventional Science. “By engineering these types of tissues, we’ll hava a far-reaching impact on translational research, as we could more readily tease out the mechanisms of why drugs do or don’t act effectively on tumors.”

U.K.-based TAP has specialist expertise in the design and development of automated cell culture and cell-processing systems for bioprocessing, drug discovery, and regenerative medicine, and develops custom solutions for use in the fields of biologics and cell-based therapies, including stem cell research and tissue engineering. The firm’s Raft technology, officially launched in June, has been developed as a culture system to enable scientists to create complex 3D cell cultures from collagen, in a convenient, simple-to-use 96-well format, in under an hour.

TAP claims Raft can be used as a platform technology to support assay development and secondary screening programs, as well as cell biology research, lead optimization/ADMEtox, and tissue engineering research. 

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