2D vs 3D In Vitro Models for Use in Drug Discovery

Figure 1: Differential proliferative response in 2D vs. 3D cell culture

Figure 1: Differential proliferative response in 2D vs. 3D cell culture

The drug discovery and development process is a long journey that can be quite costly with high rates of attrition. Many drug candidates will fail during clinical trials, leading to the loss of millions of dollars and multiple years of work. Visikol, with its expertise in cell culture models, plays an important role for companies in the early stages of drug discovery and even into the preclinical stage.

In vitro cell culture models and assays offer a wide range of advantages that are beneficial to drug discovery. These assays cost less than running animal studies and can also save time and money by requiring fewer animal studies before going into human clinical trials. There are two categories for these cell culture assays, 2D vs 3D models. Each model has its own advantages and disadvantages depending on what type of evaluation or analysis needs to be performed. One example would be hit screening and lead selection from thousands of compounds. A cell-based assay (2D or 3D) would be beneficial at this stage because it is critical to keep the cost as low as possible for these screenings. Comparing between the 2D and 3D models, it would be more economical to run a 2D cell culture study than a 3D because less cells and time are required for these assays. It is also important to monitor and control reproducibility and quality control within the screening and a simpler 2D model would allow for this while keeping cost lower.

When there are fewer compounds to evaluate, however, and more in-depth characterization is necessary, a 3D model would be the best choice. 3D cell culture models more closely mimic behavior that is seen in in vivo and better represents drug metabolism. Another advantage is protein and gene expression levels in culture resemble the levels that would be found in vivo. An excellent example of these benefits can be seen in the data generated from Visikol’s Cell Proliferation Assay. ER+ breast tumor derived cells (Wood cell line) were plated in both 2D and 3D. Each model was dosed with the same anti-proliferative therapeutics. Cisplatin and Paclitaxel are used as positive controls in this assay and show similar patterns both 2D and 3D models. One therapeutic tested only showed anti-proliferative effects in the 3D model and not 2D. If a choice had been made based solely on the 2D results, this compound would have been dismissed as ineffective.

Whether a simpler model is needed for high throughput drug screening or a more complex model that better mimics the in vivo structure, Visikol has these models and assays to address the Clients’ needs. Contact us to work with our team to identify the best assay and model for your specific research needs.

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