By Brad Larson and Peter Banks, Applications Department, BioTek Instruments, Inc., and Nicky Slawny, 3D Biomatrix, Inc.
Scientists using cell culture for drug discovery, toxicology, stem cell biology, and basic research realize the critical importance of 3-dimensional (3D) models. Data from cells cultured in a non-physiologic, monolayer format on plastic surfaces has long been suspected to differ from true in vivo physiology, and there is mounting evidence that this difference is slowing the pace of scientific discovery. It was recently estimated that the cost for bringing a new drug to market is nearly two billion dollars. The primary reason for the exorbitant cost of new drug development is the extremely high 95% failure rate attributed to either lack of efficacy or unforeseen toxicity. Much of a candidate drug’s early discovery and screening is performed using 2-dimensional (2D) cell monolayers that clearly do not mimic tissue physiology. The most cost effective solution is to obtain better targets and initial toxicological results using more relevant cell culture models before candidates progress to animal testing.