Cell culture techniques have been around since the early 1900s, and in recent years, 3D cell culture techniques have come to the forefront in the medical research industry with enhanced tissue modelling capabilities, providing accurate results. The importance of tissue modelling using 3D culturing techniques for cancer research was first initiated in the early 1980s. But massive progress has been achieved in the field over the last five to ten years with venture capitalists, angel investors, and pharmaceuticals investing billions of dollars for developing 3D cell culture technologies.

Unlike 2D cell culturing, where cells are grown on flat plastic dishes, 3D cell culture allows cells to grow in all three directions. It is used for drug development and represents a significant business opportunity. Given the fact that 3D cell culture is a better way of representing human tissues outside the body, it is gaining considerable popularity across the world, owing to the following reasons:

  • Relevant cell models — Better biomimetic tissue models make 3D cell culture more physiologically relevant and predictive than 2D culture.
  • Increased interaction between cells — 3D cell culture creates complex cell systems linked together by microfluidics to ensure better cell modelling and significantly higher interaction.
  • Better growth in a living organism — Microfluidics used for 3D cell culture consistently provide nutrients to help the cells and organs grow in a more realistic way.
  • Reduced usage of animal models — Animal models are not always a definitive way of predicting the efficacy of a drug on humans. Screening drugs for treating human organs, developed during 3D cell culture, is a much more reliable method.
  • More realistic approach for treating tumor cells — 3D cell culture techniques are excellent simulators for diseased tissues, including cancerous tumors, as these exhibit similar growth and treatment patterns.

3D cell cultures systems, plates and techniques have come a long way in the last ten years, with the global market poised for significant growth in the foreseeable future. Research firm Netscribes, expects the market to witness considerable traction going forward owing to the distinct advantages that 3D cell culture provides over 2D.