Theranostics 2020; 10(11):5074-5089. doi:10.7150/thno.42441 This issue


3D approaches to model the tumor microenvironment of pancreatic cancer

Elena Tomás-Bort1, Markus Kieler2, Shreya Sharma1, Juliana B Candido1, Daniela Loessner1,3,4

1. Centre for Tumor Microenvironment, Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London, EC1M 6BQ London, United Kingdom;
2. Institute of Vascular Biology, Medical University of Vienna, 1090 Vienna, Austria;
3. Department of Chemical Engineering and Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC 3800, Australia;
4. Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Faculty of Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC 3800, Australia.

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Tomás-Bort E, Kieler M, Sharma S, Candido JB, Loessner D. 3D approaches to model the tumor microenvironment of pancreatic cancer. Theranostics 2020; 10(11):5074-5089. doi:10.7150/thno.42441. Available from

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Graphic abstract

In tumor engineering, 3D approaches are used to model components of the tumor microenvironment and to test new treatments. Pancreatic cancers are a cancer of substantial unmet need and survival rates are lower compared to any other cancer. Bioengineering techniques are increasingly applied to understand the unique biology of pancreatic tumors and to design patient-specific models. Here we summarize how extracellular and cellular elements of the pancreatic tumor microenvironment and their interactions have been studied in 3D cell cultures. We review selected clinical trials, assess the benefits of therapies interfering with the tumor microenvironment and address their limitations and future perspectives.