Certain strains of genetically engineered non-pathogenic bacteria have shown potential as gene delivery agents for the treatment of tumours. One example is the non-invading strain of E. coli, engineered to to penetrate cells by expressing the invasin protein that can bind to β1 integrins on the cell surfaces.
In order to understand the mechanism of these E. coli gene carriers more fully, Fan Yuan and colleagues from Duke University have created a 3D microfluidic tumour model to simulate the intratumoural transport behaviour of the bacteria. The model more accurately represents the native environment by providing 3D cell-cell interactions and interstitial spaces to mimic extracellular spaces. This model is also superior to its 2D counterparts as it does not immobilise the cells on a plastic surface, providing a more realistic, higher cell density.
To read more about the team’s findings download the paper – it’s currently free to access:
Proliferation behavior of E. coli in a three-dimensional in vitro tumor model
Nelita Elliott, Tae Lee, Lingchong You and Fan Yuan
Integr. Biol., 2011, Advance Article