3D Bioprinting: Penn State Revolutionizes Cancer Research

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Most retro TV shows and movies portrayed the 21st century as a shiny, modern, futuristic landscape full of flying cars, moving sidewalks, and a completely automated way of life. While the reality of the 21st century might not live up to some of the outlandish prophecies from centuries past, some parts of our modern world transcend even our wildest predictions.

As a world-renowned research institution, Penn State continually paves the way for innovation in science and technology. Earlier this month, researchers at Penn State successfully created 3-D bioprint models of breast cancer tumors. The first of their kind, these models present medical researchers with unprecedented avenues of exploration in their quest to better understand and treat cancer.

Ibrahim Ozbolat, a professor of Engineering Science and Mechanics, Biomedical Engineering and Neurosurgery at Penn State, has pioneered this innovative medical research as the study’s senior author. Ozbolat and his colleagues have utilized 3-D printing technology to replicate a range of human tissues for experimental purposes. Through the creation of these realistic models, researchers have been able to test the efficacy of chemotherapeutic and cell-based immunotherapeutic treatments.

The 3D tumor models were proven to generate a positive immune response to the treatments that Ozbolat and his colleagues administered, which leverages this technology as a foundational step in advancing cancer research. 

Ozbolat recognizes that even with increasingly advanced medical research and technological innovation, many aspects of human health continue to perplex doctors and researchers alike. Ozbolat claims that his goal is to maintain simplicity as much as possible.

An interview with Penn State’s Adrienne Berard explained his methodology, Ozbolat stated, “There are many details that exist in the native microenvironment that we aren’t able to replicate, or even consider replicating. We are aiming for simplicity within complexity. We want to have a fundamental understanding of how these systems work — and we need the growth process to be streamlined, because we don’t have time to wait for tumors to grow at their natural pace.”

His remarks illustrate the challenge faced by the medical community in their response to cancer: they must act quickly, exercise precision and expect the unexpected. 

According to Penn State, other collaborators in these studies include Madhuri Dey, Myoung Hwan Kim, Momoka Nagamine, Ece Karhan and Nazmiye Celik of Penn State. Other collaborators from The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine include Mikail Dogan, Lina Kozhaya and Derya Unutmaz. This research was made possible through support from The National Cancer Institute, the National Science Foundation, the H.G. Barsumian, M.D. Memorial Fund and TUBITAK.

What do you think of Penn State adopting this new technology? Let us know by tweeting us @VALLEYmag!


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