Current drug development is plagued by the high resource demands associated with
use of animal models, thereby emphasizing the need to develop in vitro cell culture
models that closely mimic the in vivo microenvironment for drug screening. Biomaterials-based

three-dimensional (3D) cell culture scaffolds present an opportunity to bridge the gap between

traditional two-dimensional cell culture models and animal models, especially given
recent literature that describe the effects of biophysical properties of 3D cell culture scaffolds
on multiple cell fates including proliferation and stem cell differentiation. In our studies, we
employed alginate-based scaffolds of varying mechanical stiffness and adhesive ligand
presentation to explore the role of 3D microenvironmental cues on two cancer cell responses – toxic response to chemical compounds and migration. We observed that both 3D matrix
stiffness and cell-matrix adhesion play a significant role on cancer cell fates and are dependent

A presentation by Prashanth Asuri, Ph.D.