Carl Figdor and colleagues from the theme of Cancer Development and Immune Defense, showed in Nature Communications that the tumor microenvironment (TME) forms a major obstacle to effective cancer treatment and the clinical success of immunotherapy.
Conventional co-cultures have shed light on several aspects of cancer immunobiology, but they are limited by the lack of physiological complexity. Fidgor and colleagues have developed a human organotypic skin melanoma culture (OMC) that makes it possible to study host malignant cell interactions within a multicellular tissue architecture in real-time.
By co-culturing decellular dermis with keratinocytes, fibroblasts, and immune cells in the presence of melanoma cells, Figdor and colleagues have generated a reconstructed TME that closely resembles tumor growth as observed in human lesions and supports cell survival and function.
Figdor and colleagues demonstrated that the OMC is suitable for and outperforms conventional 2D co-cultures for the study of TME-imprinting mechanisms. Within the OMC they observed the tumor-driven conversion of cDC2s into CD14+ DCs, characterized by an immunosuppressive phenotype. The OMC offers a valuable approach to study how TME affects the immune system.
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