Advances in clinical research increasingly depend on joining technologies from disparate fields. The Medical School’s Biomedical Research Awards for Interdisciplinary New Science (BRAINS) program is designed to do just that. With a $75,000 BRAINS award, LMP assistant professor Alessio Giubellino and colleagues will apply 3D bioprinting to melanoma drug discovery and testing.

“Our central hypothesis is that a 3D-bioprinted model can be constructed to study melanoma progression and to evaluate the efficacy of new therapeutics,” said Giubellino, an anatomic pathologist and dermatopathologist whose research focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms and signaling pathways in melanoma, the leading cause of skin cancer death in the U.S.  Giubellino is teaming up with Angela Panoskaltsis-Mortari in Pediatrics who is head of the University’s 3D Bioprinting Facility, Paul Bigliardi in Dermatology, and David Wood in Biomedical Engineering in their pioneering BRAINS-funded research project.

The project has two specific aims:  To use human epidermal keratinocytes, dermal fibroblasts and melanoma cells to develop a 3D-bioprinted human melanoma construct embedded on a computer chip; and to test the efficacy of single drugs and drug combinations in an high-throughput fashion using the optimized 3D-bioprinted model.  The investigators hypothesize that the bioprinted construct will facilitate expansion of melanoma cells, providing a living platform for drugs to be tested for efficacy. “This will be the first 3D-bioprinted model to evaluate the different phases of melanoma progression in an high-throughput system,” Giubellino said.