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Seahorse Bio, Moffitt Cancer Center Nab SBIR Contract to Measure 3D Tissue Metabolism

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Seahorse Bioscience and the Moffitt Cancer Center today said they have received a Small Business Innovation Research contract through the National Cancer Institute to develop a technology for measuring the metabolism of 3D tissue.

The technology, they said, would be developed for use in high-throughput metabolic and pre-clinical toxicity screens. According to a spokesperson for Seahorse Bio, the contract runs from September 2014 to June 2015 and is for $224,837.

The work will be directed at non-small cell lung cancers and responses to targeted and non-targeted chemotherapeutic agents. Seahorse Bio and Moffitt said that research tools have primarily focused on 2D cell cultures of cancer cells grown as flat monolayers. 3D cultures that contain multiple cell types, however, can provide a model for in vitro assays that are more physiologically relevant and, as a result, may better predict in vivo outcomes.

Seahorse Bio and Moffitt will test the feasibility of quantitatively assessing the metabolic effects of certain treatments for NSCLC with the end goal of advancing personalized cancer treatment. The work involves optimizing 3D cell cultures and cancer tissue obtained by biopsies, establishing standard processing protocols to yield consistent microtissue samples, and measuring metabolic signatures of samples in response to therapeutic treatments.

Seahorse Bio's XFe96 Extracellular Flux Analyzer and novel XFe96 Spheroid Microplates will be used in the project.

If the method proves successful, it will be compatible with most tumor cell lines and be able to be co-cultured with human primary cells. Seahorse Bio and Moffitt said that they plan to eventually use the method to characterize tumors using small tissue biopsies. Applications for the XF 3D microtissue assay technology will extend beyond cancer to include diabetes, obesity, toxicology, stem cell therapy, and neurodegeneration research, they added.

"This is a very exciting opportunity because we know that the metabolism of intact cancer tissue is complex, and involves cross-talk between the cancer cells and the supporting host cells" in a process called metabolic syncytium, Robert Gillies, the vice chair of radiology and director of Moffitt's experimental program, said in a statement. He has worked with Seahorse Bio for several years to metabolically profile 3D microtissue models.

"This metabolic syncytium is necessary for cancers to thrive, and itself presents opportunities for novel therapies that could not be assessed in monoculture," he added. "Also, we fully expect that the response of these complex tissues to current and novel therapeutics will be highly predictive of their behavior in a patient."