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3-D Tissue

July 8, 2014

3-D scaffolding in cells helps scientists understand a patient’s cancer cells and personalize treatments.



Treating cancer outside the body.  I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Every breast cancer patient is unique, and Clemson bioengineer Karen Burg would like to make their treatments just as unique—personalized to their tumors and the tissue that surrounds them. Burg and her colleagues are using a device similar to a 3D printer to create a scaffold on which they can grow a patient’s own cells, and tumor cells growing alongside them.


You could test different combinations of anti-cancer agents rather than having to test it on the patient. And so if you use tumor cells taken from the patient, that becomes very powerful and what we call personalized because you’re getting information very specific to that individual.


In addition to serving as a model for personalized treatment, the 3D systems could also be used to study the interactions between living tissues and the tumor cells within them. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Karen Burg is one of seven inaugural AAAS Lemelson Invention Ambassadors, a group of scientists and engineers who will share their stories and passion for invention with public audiences around the country. To learn more about this year’s group, visit AAAS Lemelson Invention Ambassadors. Nominations for the 2015 class of Invention Ambassadors will begin in Fall 2014.