Biomaterial-based in-vitro disease models in drug and toxicology screening applications


Silviya Zustiak, Saint Louis University
Era Jain, Washington University in St. Louis


A major challenge of tissue engineering is to build three-dimensional biomaterial-based in-vitro models for studying tissue physiology and pathology. Biomaterial-based in-vitro models are the bridge between conventional tissue culture, which does not capture the complexity of human tissue, and animal models, which are costly, time consuming and raise ethical concerns. One area in which in-vitro models are underrepresented but where they can have an immediate impact is the development of platforms for drug and toxicology screening. Such in-vitro models have the potential to address the growing concerns about drug failures in clinical trials due to lack of efficacy or unexpected side effects.  Further, they can play a role in preventive medicine by answering the urgent need for efficient platforms enabling the screening of the plethora of environmental hazards linked to incidences of diseases such as cancer.