Multi-parametric hydrogels support 3D in vitro bioengineered microenvironment models of tumour angiogenesis

Biomaterials. 2015;53:609-20. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2015.02.124. Epub 2015 Mar 24.


Tumour microenvironment greatly influences the development and metastasis of cancer progression. The development of three dimensional (3D) culture models which mimic that displayed in vivo can improve cancer biology studies and accelerate novel anticancer drug screening. Inspired by a systems biology approach, we have formed 3D in vitro bioengineered tumour angiogenesis microenvironments within a glycosaminoglycan-based hydrogel culture system. This microenvironment model can routinely recreate breast and prostate tumour vascularisation. The multiple cell types cultured within this model were less sensitive to chemotherapy when compared with two dimensional (2D) cultures, and displayed comparative tumour regression to that displayed in vivo. These features highlight the use of our in vitro culture model as a complementary testing platform in conjunction with animal models, addressing key reduction and replacement goals of the future. We anticipate that this biomimetic model will provide a platform for the in-depth analysis of cancer development and the discovery of novel therapeutic targets.

Keywords: Angiogenesis; Carcinogenesis; Cell culture; ECM; Heparin; Hydrogel.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Humans
  • Hydrogels*
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasms / blood supply*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic*
  • Tumor Microenvironment*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Hydrogels