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The tumor microenvironment (TME) is a complex system that plays a crucial role in tumor progression, immune evasion, and therapy resistance. The TME is composed of various cell types, including tumor cells, stromal cells, and immune cells such as macrophages. Macrophages are versatile myeloid cells which can exhibit both pro-tumoral and anti-tumoral functions, depending on their phenotype and the TME context. M1 macrophages have demonstrated promising pro-inflammatory and anti-tumor effects, while tumor associated M2 macrophages (TAMs) play an anti-inflammatory role and promote tumor immune escape. Understanding the complex interactions between TAMs and the TME is, therefore, essential for developing effective anti-cancer immunotherapies. The pre-clinical development of immunotherapies necessitates using both in vitro and in vivo tumor models. Classical 2D in vitro models are relatively fast and inexpensive but lack the spatial complexity and heterogeneity of the TME. In vivo mouse models provide a more physiologically relevant system for evaluating therapies; however, they are time consuming, expensive, and deficient in several immune cell types, so they fail to accurately recreate the TME. 3D bioprinting technology offers a novel approach for creating complex in vitro models of the TME, allowing for the rapid and cost-effective creation of tissue constructs that mimic the composition of native tissues. Our research is focused on using this technology to recreate the TME by incorporating myeloid, stromal, and tumor cells into 3D bioprinted structures. Utilizing these models, we are investigating the cellular interactions which drive the formation of the TME to gain insights into the enigmatic functions of TAMs. Additionally, these models will aid in the development of novel anti-cancer immunotherapies able to evade or repolarize the immunosuppressive TME. Our creation of 3D bioprinted tumor models will facilitate collaborative efforts to screen a wide range of innovative therapies and support translation from bench to bedside




Presented at the 2024 World Congress on In Vitro Biology; St. Louis, MO; June 8-12-2024.

3D Bioprinting the Tumor Microenvironment for Immunotherapy Development

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