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Cancer Research

Bioanalytical solutions for understanding cellular pathways and cellular interactions in cancer research

Cancer research solutions for cell models like spheroids, organoids, and organ-on-a-chip biology

Cancer involves changes which enable cells to grow and divide without respect to normal limits, to invade and destroy adjacent tissues, and ultimately to metastasize to distant sites in the body. Cancer researchers need tools that enable them to more easily study the complex and often poorly understood interactions between cancerous cells and their environment, and to identify points of therapeutic intervention.

Learn about instrumentation and software that facilitate cancer research using, in many cases, biologically relevant 3D cellular models like spheroids, organoids, and organ-on-a-chip systems that simulate the in vivo environment of a tumor or organ.

Time-lapse imaging of prostate cancer spheroids cultured on Cell-able plates and treated with 100nM anti-cancer drug paclitaxel. Cells were stained with caspase-3/7 (green, apoptosis marker) and ethidium homodimer-1 (red, necrosis marker), and imaged every 30 minutes for 72 hours.



Workflow for analyzing 3D cancer spheroids in high-throughput screening environment

Spheroids can be grown in 96- or 384-well plates, treated with compounds, and stained with dyes that reveal the cellular processes and pathways at work. In some cases, spheroids can be imaged without washing; they may also be fixed if desired.


cancer workflow



The workflow illustrates a simplified process for analyzing spheroids and highlights systems to help you streamline research and increase your throughput.

  1. Culture spheroids – Cancer cells can be cultured directly in an ultra-low attachment (ULA), round bottom plate, or other labware to develop the typical morphology of a spheroid. Other labware allows one to grow multiple spheroids in a single well.

  2. Treat with compounds – After spheroid formation, compounds at the desired concentrations are added into the wells, and then incubated for one to several days, depending on the mechanism being studied.

  3. Stain for markers – After compound treatment is complete, stains are added directly to the media. Stains that require no washing can be used to avoid disturbing spheroids, but spheroids can be carefully washed, even using automation, if necessary.

  4. Acquire spheroid images – Images within the body of the spheroid can be captured individually or as a z-stack (multiple images taken at differing depths) using specialized imaging equipment.

  5. Analyze cancer cells – Use cellular imaging analysis software to run quantitative analysis of the cell images to monitor the expression of different markers and to quantify biological readouts.



Video: Angiogenesis research for cancer therapeutics

Angiogenesis is an important field of research and a focus for cancer therapeutics. In this interview, Dr. Bas Trietsch, CTO, MIMETAS, introduces a new solution for the study of angiogenesis: the OrganoPlate® Graft, an in vitro cell culture microplate platform that allows vascularization of 3D tissues.

Hear how Molecular Devices ImageXpress® Pico Automated Cell Imaging System and ImageXpress® Micro Confocal High-Content Imaging System play a vital role in the development and analysis of 3D tissue models built on the OrganoPlate Graft.

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Advantages of 3D imaging technology for cancer spheroids

Cancer spheroids mimic tumor behavior far more effectively than standard 2D cell cultures. Such 3D spheroid models are being successfully used in screening environments for identifying potential cancer therapeutics. These culture systems can be used in multiparametric analysis to quantify different biological outputs, accelerating cancer drug development.

Key benefits include:

  • The development of 3D high-content imaging signifies a major step in facilitating more relevant and accurate testing
  • 3D culture systems can rapidly produce uniform human cancer cell spheroids that can be used in high-throughput format to accelerate cancer drug development
  • Research with confocal 3D image analysis of cancer cells has enabled multiparametric characterization of many biological outputs



Applications and assays

Molecular Devices, an industry leader in cellular imaging, provides a wide range of tools to support life science research, drug discovery, and high-throughput screening. Our high-content imaging systems can drive the success of your bioanalytical cancer research efforts. We also provide several configurations of our multi-mode microplate readers as well as a line of easy-to-use microarray scanners.

Learn more about how our technology can help your research in cancer therapeutics.

Resources to aid in your cancer research

Videos & Webinars

Angiogenesis Thumbnail

Angiogenesis Research: High-Content Imaging Systems Help Unlock the Full Potential of 3D Tissue Models

3D Imaging of Cancer Spheroids

3D Imaging of Cancer Spheroids

Oliver Kepp and Jayne Hesley - Detect Cell Death Signatures with High Content Imaging

Oliver Kepp and Jayne Hesley - Hallmarks of Cancer - Detect and Quantify Cell Death Signatures with High Content Imaging

ImageXpress Micro XLS

ImageXpress Micro XLS

High-Throughput 3D Imaging of Cancer Spheroids

High-Throughput 3D Imaging of Cancer Spheroids


Hepatotoxicity Using iPSC-Derived Liver Cells and Beating Pattern in iPSC-Derived Cardiac Spheroids

Anti-Cancer Drugs in HCT116 Spheroids

Efficacy of Anti-Cancer Drugs in HCT116 Spheroids

Tools to Increase Bio-Relevance of 3D Assays

Tools to Increase Bio-Relevance of 3D Assays

Instrumentation and software solutions for your cancer research efforts