Comparing growth of organoids with and without cancer-related gene faults
Over the past century, researchers have studied cancer cells growing in flat layers in Petri dishes, but they’re no substitute for the real thing. Tumours – and the tissues in which they grow – are three-dimensional structures and behave very differently in real life than in a plastic dish in the lab. In recent years, researchers have started to develop three-dimensional cell culture systems known as organoids, which recapitulate the processes of cancer growth in a more realistic way. These delicate bubbles are organoids made from the large intestine: the larger white ones are grown from cells that have been genetically engineered to carry alterations commonly found in cancer, while the small green ones are from unmodified, healthy cells. By comparing the growth of these organoids side by side under different conditions or in the presence of cancer drugs, scientists can study how bowel tumours develop and how best to treat them.
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