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Review

Modeling the Tumor Microenvironment of Ovarian Cancer: The Application of Self-Assembling Biomaterials

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School of Engineering and Materials Science, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS, UK
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Institute of Bioengineering, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS, UK
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Department of Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC 3800, Australia
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Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC 3800, Australia
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Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC 3800, Australia
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Max Bergmann Center of Biomaterials Dresden, Leibniz Institute of Polymer Research Dresden e.V., 01069 Dresden, Germany
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School of Pharmacy, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK
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Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK
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Biodiscovery Institute, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Marilena Loizidou
Cancers 2021, 13(22), 5745; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13225745
Received: 15 September 2021 / Revised: 7 November 2021 / Accepted: 11 November 2021 / Published: 16 November 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bioengineering and Cancer)
The tumor-surrounding niche comprises not only cancer cells but also stromal cells, signaling molecules, secreted factors and the extracellular matrix. This niche has a three-dimensional (3D) architecture and is implicated in tumor progression, metastasis and drug resistance. 3D cancer models have been increasingly attracting attention due to their potential to provide a more representative tumor niche compared to traditional two-dimensional (2D) models. Bioengineered 3D models contain multiple cell types and important molecules that interact with each other to resemble crucial features of tumor tissues, including the 3D architecture, mechanical properties, genetic profile and cell responses to therapeutics. These defined characteristics highlight the application of 3D models to study tumor biology, metastatic pathways and drug resistance.
Ovarian cancer (OvCa) is one of the leading causes of gynecologic malignancies. Despite treatment with surgery and chemotherapy, OvCa disseminates and recurs frequently, reducing the survival rate for patients. There is an urgent need to develop more effective treatment options for women diagnosed with OvCa. The tumor microenvironment (TME) is a key driver of disease progression, metastasis and resistance to treatment. For this reason, 3D models have been designed to represent this specific niche and allow more realistic cell behaviors compared to conventional 2D approaches. In particular, self-assembling peptides represent a promising biomaterial platform to study tumor biology. They form nanofiber networks that resemble the architecture of the extracellular matrix and can be designed to display mechanical properties and biochemical motifs representative of the TME. In this review, we highlight the properties and benefits of emerging 3D platforms used to model the ovarian TME. We also outline the challenges associated with using these 3D systems and provide suggestions for future studies and developments. We conclude that our understanding of OvCa and advances in materials science will progress the engineering of novel 3D approaches, which will enable the development of more effective therapies. View Full-Text
Keywords: ovarian cancer; tumor microenvironment; peptides; biomaterial; self-assembly; mechanical properties; extracellular matrix; 3D models ovarian cancer; tumor microenvironment; peptides; biomaterial; self-assembly; mechanical properties; extracellular matrix; 3D models
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MDPI and ACS Style

Mendoza-Martinez, A.K.; Loessner, D.; Mata, A.; Azevedo, H.S. Modeling the Tumor Microenvironment of Ovarian Cancer: The Application of Self-Assembling Biomaterials. Cancers 2021, 13, 5745. https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13225745

AMA Style

Mendoza-Martinez AK, Loessner D, Mata A, Azevedo HS. Modeling the Tumor Microenvironment of Ovarian Cancer: The Application of Self-Assembling Biomaterials. Cancers. 2021; 13(22):5745. https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13225745

Chicago/Turabian Style

Mendoza-Martinez, Ana K., Daniela Loessner, Alvaro Mata, and Helena S. Azevedo. 2021. "Modeling the Tumor Microenvironment of Ovarian Cancer: The Application of Self-Assembling Biomaterials" Cancers 13, no. 22: 5745. https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13225745

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