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This week we profile a recent publication in Advanced Healthcare Materials from the labs of
Dr. Yu Shrike Zhang (pictured, second row, ninth from left) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and
Drs. Dharminder Chauhan and Kenneth Anderson at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Can you provide a brief overview of your lab’s current research focus?

While Dr. Anderson/Dr. Chauhan’s lab is focused on multiple myeloma research including identification of novel targets and validation of novel targeted therapies, as well as their translations to clinical trials culminating in FDA approval of novel targeted and immune therapies for the disease; Dr. Zhang’s lab is centered on developing advanced biofabrication strategies such as 3D bioprinting and organ-on-a-chip systems for promoting our capability to engineer functional tissues for regenerative medicine and biomimetic tissue/disease models for personalizable medicine.

What is the significance of the findings in this publication?

Multiple myeloma is a malignancy of plasma cells accounting for 12% of hematological malignancies. In this collaborative study, we for the first time demonstrated 3D bioprinting of a high-content, pathophysiologically relevant in vitro model of multiple myeloma, allowing formation of a human bone marrow-like microenvironment featuring an outer mineral-containing sheath and the inner soft hydrogel-based core laden with myeloma and stromal cells. The model not only allowed improved accuracy in drug testing than conventional planar cell cultures, but more excitingly, in a proof-of-concept demonstration, we revealed that patient-derived myeloma cells can be maintained in the 3D-bioprinted microenvironment with decent viability for at least a week of culture, whereas they would completely die off in planar culture as soon as 5 days. Therefore, our 3D-bioprinted multiple myeloma model could emulate some key characteristics of the human bone marrow to promote growth and proliferation of the encapsulated myeloma cells, providing new insights for in vitro modeling of this deadly disease, drug development, and personalized therapy down the future.

What are the next steps for this research?

We would hope that we could further improve the sophistication of the model in the next step, allow enhanced pathophysiological relevancy to promote not only drug discovery but also possibly fundamental biological studies. Additional expansion of patient cohorts into these bioprinted models and more systematic investigations would also be a necessity.

If you’d like us to mention your funding sources, please list them.

The grant support for this investigation was provided by National Institutes of Health Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) grants P50100707 (DC and KCA), R01CA207237 (DC and KCA), and R01CA050947 (KCA), as well as R00CA201603 (YSZ), R01HL153857 (YSZ), and Brigham Research Institute (YSZ). This work was also supported in part by Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Medical Research Foundation, and the Riney Family Multiple Myeloma Initiative. KCA is an American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professor.

 

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