FAST Congress  

2014 Physiologically-Relevant Cellular Tumor Models for Drug Discovery
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Traditional drug screening relies on monolayer cell culture, which is not always predictive of natural physiological state. This is especially problematic in cancer drug discovery, where simple cell cultures are not predictive of complex tumor microenvironment that consists of various cell types that interact in 3-dimensional structures. As the cost of drug development rises, there is increasing pressure for more predictive in vitro models for functional analysis and compound characterization. Cambridge Healthtech Institute’s Second Annual Physiologically-Relevant Cellular Tumor Models for Drug Discovery meeting will focus on the latest advances in 3D cellular tumor models and complex co-culture systems for functional analysis studies and compound screening/characterization.


Recommended Dinner Short Courses*

(SC3) Stem Cell Models for Drug Discovery 

(SC5) Expert ThinkTank: How to Meet the Need for Physiologically-Relevant Assays? 


*Separate registration required. Click here for more details  

Tuesday, November 18

12:00 pm Conference Registration


Engineering and Screening Tumor Spheroid Models

1:30 Chairperson’s Opening Remarks

Mitchell Ho, Ph.D., National Cancer Institute

1:35 New Tricks for Spheroids: Mimicking Stromal Interactions, Investigating Nanoparticle Drug Delivery, and Modeling Resection

Mark Grinstaff, Ph.D., Professor, Chemistry, Boston University

2:00 Functional Analysis of Therapeutic Antibodies and Antigens Using ex vivo Tumor Spheroids

MitchellHoMitchell Ho, Ph.D., Chief, Antibody Therapy Section, Laboratory of Molecular Biology, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health

Tumor microenvironments present significant barriers to antibody therapy. We established ex vivo tumor spheroids to study molecular mechanisms of antibody drug resistance. The tumor spheroids may prove invaluable for identifying potential targets in addition to providing an innovative platform for analyzing therapeutic antibodies. We compared the global gene expression profiles of spheroids and monolayers and identified genes specific to the 3-D biological structure of mesothelioma. An update on generation of human single-domain antibodies for cancer therapy will also be discussed.


2:30 Technology Showcase (Sponsorship Opportunities Available)


3D Cellular Models for Drug and
Target Screening

This showcase provides an opportunity for sponsoring companies to showcase their new and emerging 3D cell models and technologies for the next generation of drug and target phenotypic screening.

2:30 High-Throughput Compatible Co-Spheroid Model Analyzing Compound Effects on Both Tumor and Stroma Cells

Jan E. Ehlert, Ph.D., Head, Cellular Drug Discovery, ProQinase GmbH

A spheroid-based co-culture system for the simultaneous analysis of compound effects on the proliferation of tumor as well as of stroma cells was established. The modular HTS-compatible system reveals results reflecting cell-specific drug susceptibility and cell/cell interactions.

2:50 High Throughput Organ-on-a-Chip Models for Predictive Toxicology and Efficacy Testing

Joore_JosJos Joore, Ph.D., Chief Business Officer, MIMETAS BV

OrganoPlates™ are a novel microfluidic culture platform enabling long-term, membrane-free 3D co-culture models in a microtiterplate format. We have developed a large variety of tissue- and disease models, applicable for drug testing and evaluation. The platform is compatible with standard readout equipment, making the technology suitable for high‐throughput automation.

3:10 3D InSight™ Microtissues for Drug Discovery and Development

Kelm_JensJens M. Kelm, Ph.D., CSO, Co. Founder, InSphero AG

Increasing the biological significance of in vitro models to better de-risk drug failure will foster the drug discovery and developmental process. Microtissue models tailored either for efficacy testing or safety testing have shown to be a versatile culture format to be used throughout the whole development process.


3:30 Refreshment Break in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing


High-Content Analysis of Tumor Spheroid Models

4:25 Chairperson’s Remarks

David Nolte, Ph.D., Professor, Physics, Purdue University; President, Animated Dynamics, Inc.

4:30 Drug Discovery and Development of Novel Anticancer Agents: Applications of Novel 3D Multicellular Tumor Spheroid Models

DanielLaBarberaDaniel V. LaBarbera, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Drug Discovery and Medicinal Chemistry, The Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, The University of Colorado

Aberrant regulation of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a driving force in the most prominent human diseases. In particular, EMT driven tumor progression promotes the expansion of cancer stem cells, drug resistance, and the mesenchymal phenotype, which is invasive with a high metastatic potential. Therefore, one therapeutic strategy to prevent metastatic dissemination is to develop small molecule drugs that can revert the mesenchymal phenotype to the more benign epithelial state. Using novel 3D multicellular tumor spheroid (MCTS) models of EMT, suitable for high-throughput and high-content screening (HTS/HCS), we have identified lead compounds that block TCF-transcription, which regulates the mesenchymal phenotype in colorectal cancer.

4:55 Novel Stromal Targets that Support Tumor Spheroid Formation

ShaneHormanShane R. Horman, Ph.D., Research Investigator, Advanced Assay Group, Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation

The stroma of solid organ tumors influences all phases of tumor progression indicating that environment may be dominant to the genetics of cancer cells. To expand these concepts to early stage drug discovery we have scrutinized the interactions between colon stroma and colorectal carcinoma (CRC) cells in a high content co-culture 3D spheroid screen. Subsequently we were able to identify novel fibroblast genes that, when depleted, abrogate CRC spheroid formation revealing an extended chemotherapeutic space by which to target tumors.

5:20 Developing Biodynamic Screening Assays for 3D Live-Tissue Models

DavidNolteDavid Nolte, Ph.D., Professor, Physics, Purdue University; President, Animated Dynamics, Inc.

Biodynamic screening performs three-dimensional functional imaging of living tissue by measuring drug-induced changes in intracellular dynamics. It is compatible with many 3D tissue formats, including tumor spheroids grown in bioreactors or in multiwell plates, as well as tissue biopsies and other organotypic models. Dynamics-based phenotypic profiling of tissues provides a new type of high-content screening. This talk presents 3D assays being developed for chemosensitivity and resistance, proliferation and toxicity screening.

5:45 Close of Day

5:45 Short Course Registration


Recommended dinner Short Course*

6:00-9:00 (SC5) Expert ThinkTank: How to Meet the Need for Physiologically-Relevant Assays?
*Separate registration required.


Wednesday, November 19

7:30 am Registration and Morning Coffee


Engineering Complex 3D Models of Tumor Microenvironment for Drug Screening and Functional Analysis

8:00 Chairperson’s Remarks

Mary C. Farach-Carson, Ph.D., Rice University

8:10 Targeted Electric Field Therapy Development in 3D Models of the Heterogeneous Glioma Microenvironment

Scott S. Verbridge, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences, Virginia Tech – Wake Forest University

3D tissue models that incorporate the physico-chemo-cellular heterogeneities of human tumors are a valuable tool for the development of treatments targeted against the cells that resist traditional therapies. We will discuss our recent work in targeting the physical properties of therapy-resistant brain cancer cells, leveraging 3D models to analyze the impact of cell type and mechanical microenvironment on cellular response to high frequency electric fields.

8:35 Targeting Physical and Stromal Determinants of Tumor Heterogeneity in Bioengineered 3D Models

ImranRizviImran Rizvi, Ph.D., Instructor, Medicine and Dermatology, Harvard Medical School; Associate Bioengineer, Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Assistant, Biomedical Engineering, Wellman Center for Photomedicine, Massachusetts General Hospital

The biological characteristics and treatment response of cancers is influenced by an array of factors including flow-induced shear stress, stromal partners, and matrix composition, which play deterministic roles in the fate of disseminated tumours. Research platforms that integrate these cues are critically needed to identify mechanism-based combinations. Current findings will be presented on the impact of flow and stromal partners, including tumor endothelial cells, on the biological characteristics of 3D co-cultures, and their susceptibility to conventional and emerging therapies.

9:00 3D Hydrogel Co-Culture Systems for Growing Patient-Derived Xenografts: Use in Selective Drug Screening

Mary C. Farach-Carson, Ph.D., Ralph and Dorothy Looney Professor, Biochemistry and Cell Biology; Scientific Director, BioScience Research Collaborative, Rice University

Building on success culturing metastatic prostate cancer (PCa) cell lines using 3D HA-based hydrogels, we now can culture ‘never in 2D’ patient-derived xenograft (PDX) tumors alone or with other cells from the tumor microenvironment. Hydrogel-encapsulated PDX tumoroids retain viability over two weeks, proliferate and express androgen receptor, providing a valuable new platform for drug discovery and screening. We now aim to eliminate the ‘middle mouse’– a leap towards personalized medicine.

9:25 Human Stroma-Derived Extracellular Matrices: 3D ECM Physiological Systems

EdnaCukiermanEdna Cukierman, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Cancer Biology, Fox Chase Cancer Center

The talk will describe desmoplasia (i.e., cancer-associated) and fibrosis in vivo-like 3D ECM models. It will highlight the system’s physiologic and pathologic relevance. The seminar will illustrate target validation, phenotype assessment, functional analysis and drug efficacy uses. Assorted tumor-associated microenvironments will showcase tissue patterning, multi-spectra acquisitions and digital imaging analyses together with classic cell biology and biochemistry approaches. Finally, the use of well-annotated human pathological samples will establish clinical applicability.

9:50 Coffee Break in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing


Engineering in vitro Models of Cancer Metastasis

10:45 Chairperson’s Remarks

Alan H. Wells, M.D., D.M.Sc., University of Pittsburgh

10:50 Microfluidic Models with Microvascular Networks to Study Metastatic Disease

RogerKammRoger D. Kamm, Ph.D., Cecil and Ida Green Distinguished Professor, Biological and Mechanical Engineering, MIT

Metastatic disease requires multiple steps, each involving a set of signaling events among multiple cell types in a variety of microenvironmental settings. Studies have been performed using microfluidic platforms to simulate each step in the metastatic cascade. Selected results will be presented addressing several of these phenomena, but focusing on extravasation. Results show that this system is capable of discriminating between cells of various levels of invasiveness, and that resident cells such as osteoblasts or myoblasts can differentially influence the rate of extravasation.

11:15 Monitoring Extravascular Migratory Metastasis of Angiotropic Cancer Cells Using a 3D in vitro Co-Culture System

ClaireLugassyClaire Lugassy, M.D., Research Associate Professor, Pathology and Lab Medicine, UCLA School of Medicine; Member, Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center

During extravascular migratory metastasis (EVMM), angiotropic tumor cells migrate along the abluminal vascular surfaces without intravasation (pericytic-mimicry) and may spread to nearby or more distant sites. Our recent publication in Nature confirmed again the importance of this underexplored metastatic pathway. We have developed a fluorescence-based 3D co-culture model to monitor in real time single tumor cell migration/EVMM in a vascular microenvironment. This assay can be adapted for anticancer drug screening.


KEYNOTE Presentation

11:40 An All-Human Microphysiologic Liver System for Carcinoma Metastasis

Alan WellsAlan H. Wells, M.D., D.M.Sc., Vice Chair and Thomas J. Gill III Professor, Pathology, University of Pittsburgh

Metastases kill patients, but disseminated cancers are resistant to therapies. The tumor biological events behind this are unknown due to lack of relevant model systems. Further, humans metabolize agents and present toxicities uniquely, hampering drug development. We have developed an all-human microphysiological system of the liver to study both tumor behavior in the common metastatic site, and drug metabolism/efficacy in the main metabolizing organ.


12:05 Using Block Cell Printing to Develop Single Cell Arrays for Drug Screening

Lidong Qin, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Nanomedicine, Methodist Hospital Research Institute

12:30 pm Close of Physiologically-Relevant Cellular Tumor Models Conference