Researchers at MIT and in the UK have developed a better way to model pancreatic cancer, one of the most difficult types of cancer to treat.
Using a specialized gel that allows cells to mimic the extracellular matrix surrounding the pancreas, the team was able to grow tiny replicas of the organ with cells obtained from human patients. These “organoids” could allow researchers to study interactions between pancreatic tumors and their environment.
Traditionally, it has been difficult to grow pancreatic tissue in a manner that replicates both cancerous cells and their environment, because once the cells are removed from the body, they lose their cancerous traits. But the new gel supports the growth of both types of tissue.
Based on polyethylene glycol, the gel is completely synthetic and can be produced easily and consistently in the lab, a challenge with some of the gels available now. It can also be used to grow other types of tissue, including intestinal and endometrial tissue. This could make the gel useful for studying lung, colorectal, and other cancers as well as endometriosis, a condition that causes the tissue lining the uterus to grow elsewhere.
The researchers have filed a patent on the technology and are licensing it to a company that could produce the gel commercially.
Why China is still obsessed with disinfecting everything
Most public health bodies dealing with covid have long since moved on from the idea of surface transmission. China’s didn’t—and that helps it control the narrative about the disease’s origins and danger.
These materials were meant to revolutionize the solar industry. Why hasn’t it happened?
Perovskites are promising, but real-world conditions have held them back.
Anti-aging drugs are being tested as a way to treat covid
Drugs that rejuvenate our immune systems and make us biologically younger could help protect us from the disease’s worst effects.
A quick guide to the most important AI law you’ve never heard of
The European Union is planning new legislation aimed at curbing the worst harms associated with artificial intelligence.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.