AccScience Publishing / IJB / Volume 9 / Issue 6 / DOI: 10.36922/ijb.1022
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Biomimetic 3D bioprinting approaches to engineer the tumor microenvironment

Fabiano Bini1 Salvatore D’Alessandro1,2 Tarun Agarwal3 Daniele Marciano4 Serena Duchi5,6 Enrico Lucarelli7 Giancarlo Ruocco2 Franco Marinozzi1 Gianluca Cidonio2*
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1 Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Sapienza University, Rome, Italy
2 Center for Life Nano- & Neuro-Science (CLN2S), Fondazione Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Rome, Italy
3 Department of Bio-Technology, Koneru Lakshmaiah Education Foundation, Vaddeswaram, AP, India
4 School of Engineering and Materials Science, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London, United Kingdom
5 Aikenhead Centre for Medical Discovery St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
6 Department of Surgery, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
7 Osteoncology, Bone and Soft Tissue Sarcomas and Innovative Therapies Unit, IRCCS Istituto Ortopedico Rizzoli, Bologna, Italy
Submitted: 30 May 2023 | Accepted: 28 July 2023 | Published: 22 August 2023
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D printing of bioinspired materials)
© 2023 by the Author(s). This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( )

With the increasing incidence and mortality rates, cancer remains a major health challenge in the world. Despite advances in therapies and clinical programs, the efficacy of anti-cancer drugs often fails to translate from pre-clinical models to patient clinical trials. To date, pre-clinical cancer models, including two-dimensional cell cultures and animal models, have limited versatility and accuracy in recapitulating the complexity of human cancer. To address these limitations, a growing focus has fostered the development of three-dimensional (3D) tumor models that closely resemble the in vivo tumor microenvironment and heterogeneity. Recent efforts have leveraged bioengineering technologies, such as biofabrication, to engineer new platforms that mimic healthy and diseased organs, aiming to overcome the shortcomings of conventional models, such as for musculoskeletal tissues. Notably, 3D bioprinting has emerged as a powerful tool in cancer research, offering precise control over cell and biomaterial deposition to fabricate architecturally complex and reproducible functional models. The following review underscores the urgent need for more accurate and relevant 3D tumor models, highlighting the advantages of the use of biofabrication approaches to engineer new biomimetics platforms. We provide an updated discussion on the role of bioengineering technologies in cancer research and modeling with particular focus on 3D bioprinting platforms, as well as a close view on biomaterial inks and 3D bioprinting technologies employed in cancer modeling. Further insights into the 3D bioprinting tissue-specific modeling panorama are presented in this paper, offering a comprehensive overview of the new possibilities for cancer study and drug discovery.


Cancer modeling
3D bioprinting
Disease modeling
This study was supported by funding from AIRC Aldi Fellowship (GC) under grant agreement No. 25412
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare no conflicts of interests
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International Journal of Bioprinting, Electronic ISSN: 2424-8002 Print ISSN: 2424-7723, Published by AccScience Publishing