Modeling the prostate cancer tissue microenvironment using hyaluronan hydrogels
Tam, Nicky W.
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Prostate cancer cells exist in dynamic, evolving tissue environments and their behaviour is influenced by context-specific interactions with their surroundings. To better understand how and why prostate cancer cells behave the way they do, they need to be studied in context. To improve upon conventional cell culture techniques, I explored the use of a disulfide-crosslinked hyaluronan hydrogel as a model cell culture environment. I optimized a previously described chemical modification protocol to better suit the needs of a general life science laboratory and characterized the material properties of the resulting hydrogel. With unique diffusive properties, this hydrogel can potentially be used to model hypoxic tissues with limited diffusivity. Model prostate cancer cells cultured within this hydrogel environment exhibited increased metabolic activity despite signs of limited access to nutrients. This hydrogel has potential for use in advanced three-dimensional tissue culture and could help improve the physiological relevance of prostate cancer research.