Over the years, considerable progress has been made towards understanding disease biology. Nevertheless, these advances are not fully translated in the clinic into improved treatments for patients. From toxicity studies to market approval, research and development in the pharmaceutical industry is a costly and laborious process characterised by low success. A tissue culture bioreactor for culturing cancer cells To address this issue at the preclinical stage in drug development, the EU-funded MOOD project developed a novel disposable cell culture chamber able to host living tissues under physiological conditions. The bioreactor, marketed with the trademark name MIVO® (Multi In Vitro Organ) provides a fluidic environment that can support the culture of 3D tissue. MIVO® constitutes the proper platform for studying interfacing processes of epithelial cells with artificial membranes. This allows the recreation of cell migration phenomena such us tumour metastasis. It can also be used for studying the diffusion of molecules mimicking for example, the absorption of cosmetic products on the dermis or of nutrients in the intestine. As project coordinator Maurizio Aiello emphasises: “MIVO® provides a reliable, efficient and cruelty-free alternative to animal testing.″ The device can be customised by adopting different configurations and using different cell-specific protocols. It can support the long-term culture of spheroids, organoids or scaffolds with embedded cancer cells as well as cells from patient biopsies. It can also be used to test anti-metastasis drugs by culturing cancer cells on a membrane model that mimics the vascular wall and artificially recreates cancer cell migration phenomena. MIVO® provides a significant advantage in this respect since metastasis onset cannot be modelled using experimental animals. Device validation MIVO® device has been validated on human neuroblastoma, breast and ovarian cancer cells for testing anti-cancer drugs such as chemotherapies and natural killer (NK)-based immunotherapies. For traditional anticancer drugs, the results have demonstrated drug efficacy results comparable to those of in vivo mouse models. Moreover, MIVO® highlighted some cancer cell features seen in the clinical context but never observed in animals before, indicating the superior performance of the platform and its use for testing innovative therapies such as immunotherapies. MIVO® provides a drastic reduction of time and costs during the preclinical phase of drug development compared to animal testing, offering accelerated time to market for pharmaceutical companies. Importantly, it paves the way for the replacement, reduction and refinement (3Rs) of animal studies on a global scale, bypassing associated ethical issues. Future prospects During MOOD, partners identified the market opportunities for the different applications of the MIVO® platform. The technologies have been patented. Through industrial partnerships they are already being applied in the field of cosmetics. According to Aiello: “Future plans of the company include the demonstration and validation of the technology in the immunotherapy and medical device fields.″ The advantages of MIVO® extend beyond drug development with the platform finding application in personalised therapy. By culturing cells from patients’ cancer biopsies, MIVO® can help identify the best treatment for individual patients in only a couple of weeks, improving therapy outcome with obvious socioeconomic benefits.
MOOD, MIVO®, bioreactor, drug development, model, animal testing, cell migration, cosmetic, preclinical