Development of PCL polyHIPE substrates for 3D breast cancer cell culture

Caitlin E. Jackson, David H. Ramos-Rodriguez, Nicholas T. H. Farr, William R. English, Nicola H. Green, Frederik Claeyssens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
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Cancer is a becoming a huge social and economic burden on society, becoming one of the most significant barriers to life expectancy in the 21st century. In particular, breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death for women. One of the most significant difficulties to finding efficient therapies for specific cancers, such as breast cancer, is the efficiency and ease of drug development and testing. Tissue-engineered (TE) in vitro models are rapidly developing as an alternative to animal testing for pharmaceuticals. Additionally, porosity included within these structures overcomes the diffusional mass transfer limit whilst enabling cell infiltration and integration with surrounding tissue. Within this study, we investigated the use of high-molecular-weight polycaprolactone methacrylate (PCL-M) polymerised high-internal-phase emulsions (polyHIPEs) as a scaffold to support 3D breast cancer (MDA-MB-231) cell culture. We assessed the porosity, interconnectivity, and morphology of the polyHIPEs when varying mixing speed during formation of the emulsion, successfully demonstrating the tunability of these polyHIPEs. An ex ovo chick chorioallantoic membrane assay identified the scaffolds as bioinert, with biocompatible properties within a vascularised tissue. Furthermore, in vitro assessment of cell attachment and proliferation showed promising potential for the use of PCL polyHIPEs to support cell growth. Our results demonstrate that PCL polyHIPEs are a promising material to support cancer cell growth with tuneable porosity and interconnectivity for the fabrication of perfusable 3D cancer models.

Original languageEnglish
Article number522
Number of pages19
Issue number5
Early online date26 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - May 2023


  • polycaprolactone
  • polyHIPE
  • tissue engineering
  • CAM assay
  • breast cancer

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