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Cancer is a complex disease involving abnormal cell growth arising from changes in genetics, cell, and tissue biology.

The recent advances in in vitro 3D cell culture technologies is leading the way to the development of novel, more physiologically relevant human cancer models. These 3D models can preserve the genetic, proteomic, morphological and pharmacotypic features of patient-derived tumours, thus revolutionising cancer treatments. As organoids can be grown from both healthy and tumour tissue, these models would enable better understanding of cancer and accelerate the translation of basic cancer research insights into personalised patient care.

Organoids20in20cancer20research20screenshotDownload the Organoids in Cancer Research Article here

At In Vitro Technologies, we offer to participate in your cancer research journey by providing authenticated models, high quality reagents and newer technologies to answer previously unanswered questions.

ATCC Next Gen Organoids

The Human Cancer Models Initiative (HCMI) started a project to create a range of Next Generation Cancer Models which include patient-derived organoids, conditionally reprogrammed cells, and neurospheres. HCMI uses current culturing techniques to develop such cancer models for use in translational cancer research as well as other applications.

Not only do primary patient-derived organoids retain the genomic and transcriptomic expressions of the primary tumours, they also have the benefit of long-term expansion in vitro enabling multiple analyses on the same sample material. The table below shows a more comprehensive comparison between various organoid techniques.

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Organoid Growth Kits

Organoids are valuable tools to study cancer, identify and target novel therapies, and facilitate translational cancer research. These 3-D models are becoming more relevant because they are predictive of the in vivo tumor microenvironment. In efforts to simplify Organoid culture, ATCC has developed Organoid Growth Kits which are comprised of single-use supplements created to streamline media preparation. These kits contain the most costly and cumbersome supplements and reagents, reducing the time and effort required to prepare media and ensuring the successful growth of your organoids.

Example organoid Copy

Figure 1: Organoid growth medium made easy. To use an organoid growth kit, simply add the appropriate volume of basal medium to the vials included in the kit, and vortex to mix well. Pipette the reconstituted kit components into the basal medium and add the appropriate volume of conditioned medium. Pass this mixture through a bottle-top filter unit, and you're ready to feed your organoids!

Watch the ATCC Tutorial on Creating Complete Media using ATCC Organoid Growth Kits

Tips and Techniques for Successfully Culturing Organoids ATCC Webinar

Clinostat system for high efficiency organoid culture

The technology created by CelVivo allows generation of uniform, reproducible and functional spheroids and organoids from both healthy and cancer cells. These spheroids mimic the function, structure, and architecture of in vivo cells. The CelVivo ClinoStar enables development of cell models with an unprecedented correlation between in vivo and in vitro conditions and closes the gap between 2D cell culture and cell function.

These 3D cancer models can then be used to investigate different aspects of cancer.

Mini-Tumours as Models for Anticancer Evaluation of Medicinal Plants

By Prof. Chrisna Gouws, North-West University

To bridge the gap between in vitro studies and the human in vivo system, we develop novel three-dimensional spheroid models to better mimic cancer cell behaviour in vivo when studying cancer treatments. These include colorectal, lung, nasal and skin cancer mini-tumours, which we fully characterise and validate through treatment with a standard chemotherapeutic drug.

Matrices for Tumour Organoids

Scaffolds used in 3D cell culture plays multiple roles including providing physical support in the form of mechanical structures or ECM-like matrices. Upon embedment into a 3D matrix, tissue-derived cells can be grown into self-organising organotypic structures, termed organoids. These organoids can be used in a wide range of applications in cancer research.

R&D Systems’ NEW Cultrex UltiMatrix RGF BME is specially formulated with higher extracellular protein content, consistency, and clarity for optimal organoid, spheroid, and pluripotent stem cell culture. Cultrex UltiMatrix Reduced Growth Factor (RGF) Basement Membrane Extract (BME) is a soluble form of basement membrane that provides high tensile strength, enhanced levels of entactin/nidogen, elevated protein concentration, and robust clarity and purity.

Tantti® SpherTantrix is an innovative 3D bioscaffold material that mimics the ECM in living tissue. As a result of its unique structure, SpherTantrix is ideally suited for 3D cell culturing in a wide range of applications, including high throughput and content drug screening, 3D tumour or organ engineering, cell-based diagnostics, and 3D cell biology research (e.g., cancer cell biology and stem cell biology). SpherTantrix is tailored to facilitate fast formation of cell spheroids and is a cost-effective solution due to its compatibility with microplates and many high throughput screening (HTS) and high content screening (HCS) instruments.

ATCC Tumour panels

The value of tumour cell lines, as research models and drug discovery tools, is greatly enhanced when there is an understanding of the underlying genetic abnormalities that drive their phenotype. ATCC offers a wide variety of cancer cell lines for use in research related to cancer genetics, early detection methods, and effective treatment of disease. ATCC has annotated these tumour cell lines with gene mutation data from the Sanger Institute COSMIC database, and additional in-house testing.

ATCC Tumour Cell Panels are powerful tools to accelerate discoveries in cancer research, compound screening, biomarker selection, pathway analysis, and targeted therapeutic development. Each panel consists of cell lines that are:

• Easy to grow using “classic” media formulations

• Grouped by tissue of tumour origin

• Annotated with published data relevant to your research, such as known mutations in select oncogenes or receptors


Hallmarks of Cancer: New Dimensions

It is extensively documented that cancer is an extremely complicated disease and consists of more than 100 district diseases that manifest in about 200 cell types with diverse mutational etiologies. This complexity is compounded by the fact that a single disease phenotype can result from multiple genotypes and a single tumor sample could have over a hundred different mutations.

As we continue to learn more about the mechanisms involved in cancer, new aspects of the disease have emerged as potential refinements to the existing Hallmarks of Cancer. In Hanahan’s latest article, 4 new traits are proposed as emerging hallmarks and enabling characteristics.


Healthy cells normally reach terminal differentiation, whereby progenitor cells stop growing/differentiating. At this stage, these cells are non-proliferative. However, cancer cells have been shown to evade the state of terminal differentiation, thus achieving plasticity. Cancer cell plasticity promotes cancer cell diversity and contributes to intra-tumour heterogeneity.

More information coming soon

In this context, senescence in cancer cells can sometimes be reversible, allowing these cells to escape their senescent cellular states to resume proliferation. In addition, these cell types can contribute to tumour development and progression by stimulating enabling characteristics (i.e. proliferative signalling, evading apoptosis, inducing angiogenesis, stimulating invasion and metastasis) in neighbouring cells.+

More information coming soon

Parallel to genome instability, non-mutational epigenetic reprogramming can also contribute to the acquisition of enabling capabilities of cancer cells. While epigenetic regulation can mediate normal embryonic development differentiation and organogenesis, these processes can go awry during tumour development and malignant progression.

More information coming soon

Recent advances in next generation sequencing has enabled deeper investigation into the microbiome, which have profound impact on health. There have been reports of variability in microbiomes between different individuals affecting cancer phenotypes.

More information coming soon

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Learn more about the Hallmarks of Cancer

Much of what we know about the hallmarks of cancer has come through in vitro cell biology research. Cell-based assays are positioned between reductionist biochemical assays and whole organism in vivo experimentation, and are an indispensable tool in both basic and translational cancer research. At In Vitro Technologies we are committed to help you accelerate your cancer research towards positive clinical outcomes.

Together with our partners, ATCCBiotechne and Agilent bring you the most cited and recognised solutions to Accelerate Cancer Research in the ANZ market, towards improved understanding of the disease that will facilitate better therapeutic approaches.