Hydrogel Offers Targeted Treatment of Tumors

Individualized approach allows for creation of widespread models of patient-specific tumors.

A study published in Nature Protocols found a newly developed hydrogel aids individualized cancer treatment for specifically targeting tumors.

“Hydrogel is a biomaterial used by thousands of researchers around the globe," said researcher Dietmar W. Hutmacher. "Gelatin is based on collagen, 1 of the most common tissues in the human body. We have modified the gelatin to engineer 3D tumor microenvironments.”

The hydrogel can be used as a ‘biolink’ because it can be modified to mimic the firmness of cartilage or the softness of breast tissue and can print 3D microenvironments or tumor models in order to test different anti-cancer drugs. Additionally, the high quality hydrogel can be produced inexpensively on a large scale.

“It is highly reproducible, which means we have been able to produce this hydrogel hundreds of times, not just once or twice in the lab, so researchers worldwide will be able to create it,” Hutmacher said.

Additionally, the hydrogel infused with tumors cells can be used to quickly create numerous models of patient-specific tumors.

“Instead of the sometimes hit and miss chemotherapy that affects every cell in the body this will allow us to test different anti-cancer drugs and different combinations of them all at once so that we can pinpoint an individualized treatment that will hit only the cancer cells,” Hutmacher said. “It will cut the process of finding a personalized treatment for each patient down to a week or 2.”

The gel opens the doors for a faster and more personalized cancer treatment by enabling numerous and simultaneous tests in order to find the right therapy for targeting a tumor.