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  1. Glioblastoma (GBM) is highly resistant to treatment and invasion into the surrounding brain is a cancer hallmark that leads to recurrence despite surgical resection. With the emergence of precision medicine, patient-derived 3D systems are considered potentially robust GBM preclinical models. In this study, we screened a library of 22 anti-invasive compounds (i.e., NF-kB, GSK-3-B, COX-2, and tubulin inhibitors) using glioblastoma U-251 MG cell spheroids. We evaluated toxicity and invasion inhibition using a 3D Matrigel invasion assay. We next selected three compounds that inhibited invasion and screened them in patient-derived glioblastoma organoids (GBOs). We developed a platform using available macros for FIJI/ImageJ to quantify invasion from the outer margin of organoids. Our data demonstrated that a high-throughput invasion screening can be done using both an established cell line and patient-derived 3D model systems. Tubulin inhibitor compounds had the best efficacy with U-251 MG cells, however, in ex vivo patient organoids the results were highly variable. Our results indicate that the efficacy of compounds is highly related to patient intra and inter-tumor heterogeneity. These results indicate that such models can be used to evaluate personal oncology therapeutic strategies. 
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  2. Abstract

    Pancreatic cancer is one of the most complex types of cancers to detect, diagnose, and treat. However, the field of nanomedicine has strong potential to address such challenges. When evaluating the diffusion and penetration of theranostic nanoparticles, the extracellular matrix (ECM) is of crucial importance because it acts as a barrier to the tumor microenvironment. In the present study, the penetration of functionalized, fluorescent gold nanorods into large (>500 μm) multicellular 3D tissue spheroids was studied using a multimodal imaging approach. The spheroids were generated by co-culturing pancreatic cancer cells and pancreatic stellate cells in multiple ratios to mimic variable tumor-stromal compositions and to investigate nanoparticle penetration. Fluorescence live imaging, photothermal, and photoacoustic analysis were utilized to examine nanoparticle behavior in the spheroids. Uniquely, the nanorods are intrinsically photoacoustic and photothermal, enabling multi-imaging detection even when fluorescence tracking is not possible or ideal.

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