A critical review of 3D tissue engineering, its strengths, and weaknesses

April 13, 2023

3D tissue engineering is a rapidly advancing field that aims to create functional tissue constructs that can be used for a range of applications, including drug testing, disease modelling, and regenerative medicine. While 3D tissue engineering has shown great promise, there are still significant differences between engineered tissue constructs and the complexity of human biology.

One key difference is that engineered tissues are typically composed of a single cell type or a limited number of cell types, while human tissues are composed of a complex array of different cell types, each with distinct functions and interactions with each other. In addition, the extracellular matrix in engineered tissues may differ from that of native tissues, which can affect cellular behaviour and function.

Blood vessels are essential for delivering oxygen and nutrients to cells and removing waste. While some engineered tissues have been vascularized, creating functional vasculature in complex tissues remains a challenge. Furthermore, Human tissues are constantly changing in response to external stimuli. Recreating this complexity in an engineered tissue is difficult. This can impact the behaviour of cells and limit the ability of engineered tissues to accurately model diseases and drug responses.

Despite these challenges, 3D tissue engineering has made significant strides in recent years and has the potential to transform drug development. Advancements in stem cell biology, tissue engineering techniques, and biomaterials are enabling the development of more complex and functional tissue constructs that more closely resemble native tissues. While engineered tissues may not yet fully replicate human biology, they offer a valuable tool for studying disease and developing new therapies.

How do they compare to other currently available assays?

3D tissue models offer several advantages over current 2D models. Here are some key differences.

  1. Increased complexity: 3D tissue models more closely mimic the complex architecture of native tissues. They can better replicate the cellular and extracellular matrix interactions, creating a more physiologically relevant environment for cells.
  2. Improved cell viability and functionality: 3D tissue models offer a better environment for cells to grow and differentiate. This can lead to improved cell viability and functionality.
  3. Enhanced disease modelling: 3D tissue models provide a more accurate representation of human biology and can better replicate disease states. This can lead to improved drug screening and disease modelling, enabling the development of more effective therapies.
  4. Better predictability of drug efficacy and toxicity: 3D tissue models can provide more accurate predictions of how drugs will behave in the human body. This can reduce the need for animal testing and help accelerate the drug development process.
  5. Potential for personalized medicine: 3D tissue models can be created using patient-derived cells, enabling the development of personalized therapies.
    In summary, 3D tissue models offer significant advantages over current 2D models. They provide a more physiologically relevant environment, enabling improved cell viability and functionality improving disease modelling, and better prediction of drug efficacy and toxicity. While 2D models have been valuable, 3D tissue models offer a more advanced approach for studying human biology.

Alcyomics has a range of 3D tissue engineered models for pre-clinical development. We have a wealth of expertise in 3D model design and assay development. Get in touch to discuss how we can help.

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