The improvement of culturing techniques to model the environment and physiological conditions surrounding tumors has also been applied to the study of extracellular vesicles (EVs) in cancer research. EVs role is not only limited to cell-to-cell communication in tumor physiology, they are also a promising source of biomarkers, and a tool to deliver drugs and induce antitumoral activity. Researchers from CIC bioGUNE discuss the improvements achieved by using 3D culture models to evaluate the role of EVs in tumor progression and the potential applications of EVs in diagnostics and therapeutics. The most employed assays are gel-based spheroids, often utilized to examine the cell invasion rate and angiogenesis markers upon EVs treatment. To study EVs as drug carriers, a more complex multicellular cultures and organoids from cancer stem cell populations have been developed. Such strategies provide a closer response to in vivo physiology observed responses. They are also the best models to understand the complex interactions between different populations of cells and the extracellular matrix, in which tumor-derived EVs modify epithelial or mesenchymal cells to become protumor agents. Finally, the growth of cells in 3D bioreactor-like systems is appointed as the best approach to industrial EVs production, a necessary step toward clinical translation of EVs-based therapy.
Schematic overview of the most popularized 3D culture techniques, and the main assays regarding extracellular vesicles (EVs) applications to the study of tumors biology, use of EVs as therapeutic agents, study of tumorigenesis and cell-to-cell crosstalk.