Tissue engineered platforms for studying primary and metastatic neoplasm behavior in bone

J Biomech. 2021 Jan 22:115:110189. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2020.110189. Epub 2020 Dec 30.


Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, claiming more than 560,000 lives each year. Osteosarcoma (OS) is the most common primary malignant tumor of bone in children and young adults, while bone is a common site of metastasis for tumors initiating from other tissues. The heterogeneity, continual evolution, and complexity of this disease at different stages of tumor progression drives a critical need for physiologically relevant models that capture the dynamic cancer microenvironment and advance chemotherapy techniques. Monolayer cultures have been favored for cell-based research for decades due to their simplicity and scalability. However, the nature of these models makes it impossible to fully describe the biomechanical and biochemical cues present in 3-dimensional (3D) microenvironments, such as ECM stiffness, degradability, surface topography, and adhesivity. Biomaterials have emerged as valuable tools to model the behavior of various cancers by creating highly tunable 3D systems for studying neoplasm behavior, screening chemotherapeutic drugs, and developing novel treatment delivery techniques. This review highlights the recent application of biomaterials toward the development of tumor models, details methods for their tunability, and discusses the clinical and therapeutic applications of these systems.

Keywords: 3D tumor model; Biomaterials; Cancer therapy; Mechanical properties; Tumor microenvironment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms*
  • Tissue Engineering
  • Tumor Microenvironment


  • Biocompatible Materials