The results of this research, recently published in the Journal of Biomolecular Screening (Vol 15, 2010, p. 1114-1151), showcase the ability of BellBrook’s3D ECM Invasion Assay Service to advance the exploration of new targets for anticancer drug development.
Metastasis is the predominant cause of death from cancer, and tumor cell migration is a key element in the metastatic process. Understanding how tumor cells invade other tissues and developing new drugs that block the process are fundamental challenges in cancer research. However, modeling tumor cell invasion the way it occurs in the body – three dimensional movement of cells through ECM (Extracellular Matrix) - has proven difficult, especially in an automated, high throughput format, largely because culturing and imaging cells in ECM in traditional mulitwell plates is problematic. As described in the JBS paper, the BellBrook team was able to circumvent these difficulties by performing invasion assays in submicroliter channels in their recently developed iuvo™ Microchannel 5250 plates. Metastatic prostate cells were added to the liquid media compartment and allowed to migrate into the collagen-filled microchannels and automated microscopy was used to image the ultrathin assay compartments, generating quantitative data on the number of cells invading the matrix and distance traveled as well as effects on cell proliferation. The study showed that that cell movement through ECM in the microchannels was truly 3-dimensional, and therefore, representative of the in vivo invasion process. In addition, quantitative potency measurements were obtained for known inhibitors of cell migration, as well as information on the effect of the inhibitors on cell health, demonstrating the utility of the assay for anti-cancer drug discovery. By using this newly-developed assay in their 3D ECM Invasion Assay Service, BellBrook can provide researchers with valuable information on how effectively and specifically their potential drug molecules target the invasion process.