Emulsion technologies for multicellular tumour spheroid radiation assays

Kay S. McMillan, Anthony G. McCluskey, Annette Sorensen, Marie Boyd, Michele Zagnoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)
136 Downloads (Pure)


A major limitation with current in vitro technologies for testing anti-cancer therapies at the pre-clinical level is the use of 2D cell culture models which provide a poor reflection of the tumour physiology in vivo. Three dimensional cell culture models, such as the multicellular spheroid, provide instead a more accurate representation. However, existing spheroid-based assessment methods are generally labour-intensive and low-throughput. Emulsion based technologies offer enhanced mechanical stability during multicellular tumour spheroid formation and culture and are scalable to enable higher-throughput assays. The aim of this study was to investigate the characteristics of emulsion-based techniques for the formation and long term culture of multicellular UVW glioma cancer spheroids and apply these findings to assess the cytotoxic effect of radiation on spheroids. Our results showed that spheroids formed within emulsions had similar morphological and growth characteristics to those formed using traditional methods. Furthermore, we have identified the effects produced on the proliferative state of the spheroids due to the compartmentalised nature of the emulsions and applied this for mimicking tumour growth and tumour quiescence. Finally, proof of concept results are shown to demonstrate the scalability potential of the technology for developing high-throughput screening assays.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-110
Number of pages11
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Oct 2015


  • in vitro technology
  • glioma
  • spheroids


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