Manipulation of animal cells; cell and tissue culture to be exact has been practically used in various branches of biological science as well as medical science. Animal cell and tissue culture play a vital role in the research and development of drugs, also helps in enhancing the quality of health of humans suffering from cell-related diseases. Cell culture involves complicated processes of isolating the desired cell from its natural environment which later on will grow in a controlled environmental artificial condition (in vitro).
Generally, a cancer cell is an abnormal cell that proliferates uncontrollably with the risk of spreading and invading other parts of the body (Torres, 2013). Cancer has been known for a thousand years as one of the fatal diseases, but medical science has just understood the mechanism and its progression in the past few centuries through cancer research (Chang, 2018). Cancer research is research into cancer to diagnose the cause and develop the treatment strategies corresponding to the specific type of cancer. It has been ongoing rapidly by the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th and focused more on the causes. Ever since the numerous discoveries in the biological sciences have been revealed, this technique has been used in various fields of study including genetics, oncology, virology, etc. The mechanism of cancer is studied based on the basic difference between a normal cell and a cancer cell using animal cell culture techniques. Normal cells can be transformed into cancer cells by using radiation, chemicals, and viruses. Therefore, the mechanism can be studied along with the drug production to destroy the specific cancer cells only. The study of cancer cells has discovered the mechanism and explanation behind the rapid growth of cancer cells.
Also, cell culture experiments have confirmed that the uncoupling of differentiation and proliferation controls is central to cancer development and occurs at an early stage (Yuspa et al., 1988).
The use of cell culture methods plays a crucial role in advancing biomedical research particularly in drug discovery, cancer biology and regenerative medicine (Hussain, 2017). These methods involve two different types of culture which are cell lines and primary cell culture. The use of patient-derived primary cell culture that is ex vivo cell populations represent an important tool for cancer research which requires the samples to have correct manipulation to maximize their translational value (Miserocchi et al.,2017).
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Advanced techniques in cancer research
1) 3D Cell Culture
Ever since the technique of cell culture is introduced, cells have been cultured in two-dimensions; attached to the tissue culture plastic ware or ECM attachment proteins. The cons of this technique are that the in-vitro experimental data cannot be translated into clinical trials completely when it is grown in 2D condition since the cellular signals between cells and its matrix cannot be reproduced. 3D cell culture enables a better representing in vivo physiological conditions closely.
Compared to 2D cell culture, this 3D enhanced drug metabolism with an increase of CYP enzymes (involves in synthesis and metabolism).
- Stem cells were grown in 3D exhibit significantly higher differentiation ability.
- Well-established responses to mechanical stimuli of cells
- Viral pathogenesis including viral growth, infection and pathogen-host interactions can be observed with reduced hazard risk.
- Scaffold-based techniques –cells are grown in the presence of support. Major types of support that can be used:
- Hydrogel-based support
- Polymeric hard material based support –cell recover a more physiological shape because they are not plated on flat surface
- Scaffold free techniques –allow cell to self-assemble to form non-adherent cell clump; spheroid
In other word, compared to 3D cell culture, 2D lack realistic complexity, meanwhile animal models are cost consuming, tedious and frequently fail to reflect human tumor biology.
Growing cells in 3D spheroids helps to increase resistance to chemotherapy in comparison with the same cells that grown in monolayer. For an instance, leukemic cell lines were cultured together with bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells in either a 2D or 3D system, the 3D culture provided chemoprotection from doxorubicin (chemotherapy drug used to stop/slow down the growth of cancer cells) compared to the 2D culture despite equal penetration into both models.