The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) in the UK has awarded a prize fund to a Portuguese researcher for the creation of reliable three-dimensionally (3D) engineered functional cancer disease models.
The University of Minho vice-president and tissue engineering and regenerative medicine (TERM) expert professor Rui Reis will develop the models to aid in prediction of the efficacy of cancer drugs, eliminating the need for animal testing and clinical trials.
IET Prize Selection Committee chair John O’Reilly said: “Trialling the efficacy of new anti-cancer drugs remains one of the biggest challenges facing scientists today and his breakthrough research in the field of 3D engineering of functional cancer disease models could accelerate the approval of new treatments.”
IET’s £350,000 prize fund is set to support the professor’s research over five years for the development of a tissue engineering platform to create 3D cancer microenvironments.
The microenvironments will be used as functional disease models to test cancer drugs being developed by pharmaceutical firms, and therapies under assessment by the medical community.
Reis said: “Most animal models are not representative of human situations, and currently more than 70%-80% of cancer research is based on 2D models, which can’t accurately replicate the three-dimensional properties of cancer cells such as tumours.
“I trust that it will help my team and I to use our TERM unique expertise in order to move towards solving this situation, by means of creating novel breakthrough and reliable 3D engineered functional cancer disease models.”