My 7th Scientific Article Publication and 100th Post!


My seventh article is finally published last month and with this being my 100th post I thought this would be the perfect topic! I have toyed with the idea for quite a while now of posting my scientific publications and explaining the significance behind the articles in a manner that all are able to understand.  Scientific articles are often dense in nature and are by no means easy to quickly surmise the importance of the research at hand.  I think it is incredibly important for science to make efforts to explain the research and results in a way that is able to be understood by all.  Perhaps in this way the public will gain back some of the trust that they seem to have lost with regard to the scientific community.  Above you’ll see an image of my 3D printed device with fluorescein flowing through the six channels.  Depending on the reception of this post I’ll decide on a more thorough explanation of the device and the concept behind the dosing.

Title, Authors, Journal, Date: 

Drug penetration and metabolism in 3D cell cultures treated in a 3D printed fluidic device: assessment of irinotecan via MALDI imaging mass spectrometry

Gabriel J. LaBonia, Sarah Y. Lockwood, Andrew A. Heller, Dana M. Spence, and Amanda B. Hummon

Published in Proteomics

Special Issue: Advances in Mass Spectrometry Imaging

Date: June 15, 2016


In short, Hummon’s lab at Notre Dame has used the 3D printed device I developed at Michigan State University during my PhD to dose spheroids (See Key Terms), a tumor mimic, with the chemotherapeutic drug, irinotecan. Previously, the ND group had published data showing the effect of the drug on the ‘ball of cells’ in a stagnant solution, this environment does not mimic the active dosing experienced by a tumor in the human body, i.e., in vivo. My device allows a dosing regiment to be applied, which more closely mimics that in real life, however is performed separate of a living being, and therefore is an in vitro platform. This was a successful, early study demonstrating the potential application regarding the merging of these two technologies. As the studies progress, the dosing regime will get closer and closer to mirroring that of a real life pharmacokinetic profile.

Key Terms:

Spheroids (3D Cell Culture): Cells are grown, i.e., cultured in a manner that allows them to grow in three dimensions. Specifically, the spheroids used in this study mimic tumor environments with the cells near to core of the ball of cells dying due to oxygen/nutrient deprivation and this gradient gradually increasing toward the surface of the of the sphere. Again, this type of cell culture is an in vitro method and lacks the complexities of a in vivo tumor, e.g., vasculature.

In vivo: Latin for ‘within the living.’ For example, a late stage clinical trial where a therapeutic drug is given to human subjects with the effects monitored.

In vitro: Latin for ‘within the glass.’ For example, dosing cells cultured in a flask with a known concentration of therapeutic drug and monitoring a specific effect.

3D printing (Additive Manufacturing): There are many, many, many different types of 3D printers and many more materials that can be used once you decide on a printing method. I’ve co-authored a popular 3D printing review, within the context of analytical chemistry. The method utilized in this application was Polyjet printing, where a liquid layer of material is ‘printed’ before subsequently being cured by a UV light. The following layer is then printed on the newly cured layer before being cured as well. The process repeats itself until the device is complete. One of the reasons we thoroughly enjoy working with our printer, is not only the resolutions we achieve but also the capability to print a second material simultaneously, while even mixing the two to create an alloy. These capabilities allow for greater flexibility while designing the devices using CAD (computer aided design) software.

Pharmacokinetic Profiles: A staple of the pharmaceutical world, pharmacokinetic studies monitor the body’s effect on a drug.  For example, if you were to take an aspirin. First, does that drug absorb into your body before being subsequently distributed throughout.  Finally, it is how your body proceeds to metabolize or break down the drug and then excrete it from your body.  These studies are typically done on animal models during clinical stage testing, with high costs associated with the experiments.  There is a push to develop devices, such as mine that allow for the studies in an in vitro setting at much reduced price tag.






  1. This is absolutely wonderful! Congratulations to you on your accomplishment. I love reading about your work, it is absolutely awesome that you have decided to share it in a manner that others may understand.
    Good luck to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So, Sarah, what you’re saying is…you’re inventing the cure for cancer! 😉 But seriously, this is really cool; I’m glad you’re sharing it. It fits right in with the name of your blog, too, so I say, “the more the better”! Congrats on the publication of your article and the utilization of your technology. Those are huge accomplishments.

    I can definitely imagine 3D printing technology having significant implications for several fields of study and industry, in the future. The medical implications alone are exciting!

    Bonus: I bet science fiction writers are all over this, by now! The plot thickens.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations on getting your article published!! So if I get this right, you can’t only reduce the costs but also make testing on animals redundant by using this technique?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Anne! Yes exactly! The device still in its infancy and needs some modeling and characterization done but that’s the general idea. However, to be clear it wouldn’t be possible to completely replace animal testing due to the valuable in vivo data obtained but we would reduce the quantity of these studies. The costs associated with bringing a new drug to market are massive, so the goal was to develop a tool to potentially help alleviate some of the cost.


  4. Shoot, I’m just proud of myself for knowing what the term proteomics means. As a fellow researcher, awesome that you’re explaining your work. More people need to do it.

    Liked by 1 person

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