Revolutionising Advanced Cell Models: Our Key Learnings from SLAS2023 Conference

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Posted Mar 22 2023

Inventia Life Science had a great time at the Society of Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS) Conference in sunny San Diego at the beginning of the month! It's awesome to be back at in-person events, since our first appearance in 2019! As always, it's encouraging and exciting to see the fantastic turnout and how the advancements in technology are being used to help advance biology & human health. Here at Inventia, we are all about revolutionising 3D cell biology and inspiring science, we look forward to taking back what we learned at the conference and implemented into our RASTRUM product and workflows.

What were some of our key takeaways?

The future is Animal-Free (or at least Animal Reduced)

Reliance on animal models is reducing (not in all areas), particularly with the recent passing of the FDA Modernization Act 2.0. People are starting to ask questions about how we can improve the phenotypic and physiological relevance of in-vitro models to replace animal models. Furthermore, a number of conversations were had regarding the lack of human target expression in mouse models, especially in the immune landscape, necessitating the need for reliable in vitro models.

Analysis incompatibility

Incompatibility with traditional analysis techniques is an issue for a number of 3D models. Some examples we came across were auto-fluorescence of the extracellular matrix (ECM), inability to easily retrieve cells from the matrix, models that can’t be used in 384 or 1536 microwell plates and models that degrade too quickly.

Reproducible tissue-relevant ECM

Reproducibility in 3D models is still an issue and is compounded by the lack of tuneable ECM components and lack of reproducible ECM products. Although we spend a lot of time carefully selecting and culturing our cells for physiological relevance, being able to tune the matrix (through stiffness, peptide and protein components) to optimise for a tissue type is often overlooked, yet can be critical to desired biology.

What to do with the data?

3D models can produce large amounts of data, which can be difficult to analyse and interpret. This analysis is also magnified by complexities introduced by a lack of reproducibility.

Creating 3D Advanced Cell Models should not be difficult

In our opinion, we saw a lot presentations on how to create 3D models instead of using those models to answer the biological questions. Many of these advanced models consisted of 3D spheres of cells or organoids containing animal-derived matrices. When we asked researchers why they used these methods, many replied it is easy to make spheroids or organoids. It is clear, however, that the local matrix environment can have a substantial influence on the phenotype of cells. This influence can dramatically change cellular behaviours, i.e. driving cancer cells from epithelial to mesenchymal subtypes.

RASTRUM technology addresses a number of key challenges in creating an Advanced Cell Model. Not only does it allows for the precise control of cell organisation and behaviour in these models, but it's also incredibly easy to use. With its user-friendly interface, automation capabilities, and tuneable ECMs, researchers can focus on their experiments instead of spending time optimising their models. Furthermore with RASTRUM technology, researchers can seamlessly integrate into many of their current 2D workflows.

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