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Three-dimensional modeling of ovarian cancer

Erin A White, Hilary A Kenny, Ernst Lengyel
Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews 2014 December 15, 79-80: 184-92
New models for epithelial ovarian cancer initiation and metastasis are required to obtain a mechanistic understanding of the disease and to develop new therapeutics. Modeling ovarian cancer however is challenging as a result of the genetic heterogeneity of the malignancy, the diverse pathology, the limited availability of human tissue for research, the atypical mechanisms of metastasis, and because the origin is unclear. Insights into the origin of high-grade serous ovarian carcinomas and mechanisms of metastasis have resulted in the generation of novel three-dimensional (3D) culture models that better approximate the behavior of the tumor cells in vivo than prior two-dimensional models. The 3D models aim to recapitulate the tumor microenvironment, which has a critical role in the pathogenesis of ovarian cancer. Ultimately, findings using models that accurately reflect human ovarian cancer biology are likely to translate into improved clinical outcomes. In this review we discuss the design of new 3D culture models of ovarian cancer primarily using human cells, key studies in which these models have been applied, current limitations, and future applications.

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