3D Biomaterial Scaffolds Mimic Tumor Microenvironment and Enable Drug Screening for Personalized Cancer Therapies

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Prostate cancer C4-2B cells on different stiffness CA scaffolds. Mineralizationincreases with stiffness.
Stephen Florczyk, Ph.D.
External Link (www.ampac.ucf.edu)
Ratna Chakrabarti, Ph.D.
External Link (med.ucf.edu)
Managed By
Brion Berman
Assistant Director 407.882.0342
Patent Protection

Provisional Patent Application Filed

New 3D biomaterial scaffold enables testing of chemotherapies before administering to patients

Researchers at UCF and the Mayo Clinic are developing a diagnostic tool for predicting patient outcome in response to a particular cancer treatment. The tool consists of biomaterial scaffolds that mimic the in vivo 3D structure of the tumor microenvironment and can be used as an in vitro platform to screen cancer therapies.

Consisting of unique biomaterial compositions of natural polymers, the scaffold tool exhibits the stiffness, porosity, and other mechanical properties that are present in vivo. Additionally, the cell culture scaffolds support the co-culture of cancer cells with fibroblasts or immune cells, providing a more representative model of the heterogeneous in vivo tumor microenvironment.

Technical Details

The 3D screening platform consists of biomaterial scaffold compositions and methods for creating cell culture scaffolds of varying stiffness, porosity and mechanical properties. Such scaffolds enable patient-derived primary cancer cells to grow and retain their malignant phenotype in an in vitro environment. The biomaterials can consist of natural polymers, such as chitosan-alginate (CA), chitosan-chondroitin sulfate (C-CS), and chitosan-hyaluronic acid (C-HA) and be made using 3D printing and freeze-casting techniques.


  • Mimics the in vivo tumor microenvironments
  • Supports co-culture of cancer cells with fibroblasts or immune cells
  • Enables the drug screening for more personalized cancer treatments


  • Diagnostic tool for screening cancer treatment therapies