Bethny Morrissey, Karen Blyth, Phil Carter, Claude Chelala, Ingunn Holen, Louise Jones and Valerie Speirs
SEARCHBreast, a UK initiative supported by the NC3Rs, organised a workshop entitled 3D Modelling of Breast Cancer. The workshop focused on providing researchers with solutions to overcome some of the perceived barriers to working with human-derived tumour cells, cell lines and tissues, namely: a) the limited access to human-derived material; and b) the difficulty in working with these samples. The workshop presentations provided constructive advice and information on how to best prepare human cells or tissues for further downstream applications. Techniques in developing primary cultures from patient samples, and considerations when preserving tissue slices, were discussed. A common theme throughout the workshop was the importance of ensuring that the cells are grown in conditions as similar to the in vivo microenvironment as possible. Comparisons of the advantages of several in vitro options, such as primary cell cultures, cell line cultures, explants or tissue slices, suggest that all offer great potential applications for breast cancer research, and highlight that it need not be a case of choosing one over the other. The workshop also offered cutting-edge examples of on-chip technologies and 3-D tumour modelling by using virtual pathology, which can contribute to clinically relevant studies and provide insights into breast cancer metastatic mechanisms.