Development of novel anti-cancer peptides requires a rapid screening process which can be accelerated by using appropriate in vitro tumor models. Breast carcinoma tissue is a three-dimensional (3D) microenvironment, which contains a hypoxic center surrounded by dense proliferative tissue. Biochemical clues provided by such a 3D cell mass cannot be recapitulated in conventional 2D culture systems. In this experiment, we evaluate the efficacy of the sandalwood peptide, cyclosaplin, on an established in vitro 3D silk breast cancer model using the invasive MDA-MB-231 cell line. The anti-proliferative effect of the peptide on the 3D silk tumor model is monitored by alamarBlue assay, with conventional 2D culture as control. The proliferation rate, glucose consumed, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), and matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP-9) activity of human breast cancer cells are higher in 3D constructs compared to 2D. A higher concentration of drug is required to achieve 50% cell death in 3D culture than in 2D culture. The cyclosaplin treated MDA-MB-231 cells showed a significant decrease in MMP-9 activity in 3D constructs. Microscopic analysis revealed the formation of cell clusters evenly distributed in the scaffolds. The drug treated cells were less in number, smaller and showed unusual morphology. Overall, these findings indicate the role of cyclosaplin as a promising anti-cancer therapeutic.
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