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Core–Shell Spheroid-Laden Microgels Crosslinked under Biocompatible Conditions for Probing Cancer-Stromal Communication

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Zhu, H 
Roode, LWY 
Parry, AJ 
Rodriguez-Garcia, M 


jats:sec<jats:label />jats:pMulticellular cancer spheroids (MCSs) have emerged as a promising in vitro model that recaptures many features of solid tumours in vivo. To generate cancer spheroids, cells are encapsulated in microgels with high throughput. While the biophysical properties of the cancer spheroid and biomaterial influence the function and behavior of the cells, characterization of these properties remains largely unexplored. In addition, many existing techniques lack control over cell positioning, resulting in the formation of spheroids with large variability. Herein, a versatile, microfluidic platform for generating biocompatible core–shell microgels with uniform cancer spheroids is reported. In addition, an in situ micromechanics measuring device to determine the stiffness of individual artificial cancer niches is used. The power of the microfluidics‐based method by making MCS‐laden microgels to model the interactions of stromal cancer cells is demonstrated. Together with in vivo data, it is shown that tumor cell proliferation is promoted by cocultured fibroblasts.</jats:p></jats:sec>


Funder: H2020 European Research Council; Id:

Funder: China Scholarship

Funder: College of Engineering, University of Canterbury; Id:


3D cultures, cancer stromal interactions, cocultures, micro-mechanics, microscale hydrogels, nanoporous structures, tumor microenvironments

Journal Title

Advanced NanoBiomed Research

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European Research Council (337969)
Medical Research Council (MR/M013049/1)
Cancer Research UK (C20/A20976)