A living 3D model of a brain tumour has been created by scientists, which is being used to look at the effectiveness of therapeutics on this form of cancer.
Experts from Brown University managed to create a glioma with a network of blood vessels surrounding it.
The tumour model was then used in a number of experiments, which included showing how iron-oxide nanoparticles carrying tumstatin were able to break into the vessels which keep the tumour going with oxygen and other nutrients.
The research paper was published in the journal Theranostics, with Don Ho, lead author of the study, stating that the model "offers a facile process to test diffusion and penetration into a glioma that is covered by a blood vessel-like coating of endothelial cells".
"This assay would save time and money, while reducing tests in living organisms, to examine an agent's 3D characteristics such as the ability for targeting and diffusion," he added.
Mr Ho, a graduate student in the lab of chemistry professor Shouheng Sun, went on to say that the benefit of a 3D model over 2D is that it is possible to see nanoparticles diffusing through the endothelial cells.
The new model is also preferred to previous 3D tissue models as it allows the glioma and endothelial cells to assemble just as they would in real life.
The researchers hope that in the future the model will have "significant potential" to help test and optimise the design of therapeutic and diagnostic nanocarriers and then determine their capabilities.
In the UK, around 4,500 new cases of primary brain tumours are discovered every year, according to the NHS, with the exact cause being unknown.
The organisation advises that treatment should be sought as soon as possible as this could prevent it from spreading to other parts of the brain and into the spinal cord.