Drug discovery programmes require accurate in vitro systems for drug screening and testing. Traditional cell culture makes use of 2D (two-dimensional) surfaces for ex vivo cell growth. In such environments, cells are forced to adopt unnatural characteristics, including aberrant flattened morphologies. Therefore there is a strong demand for new cell culture platforms which allow cells to grow and respond to their environment in a more realistic manner. The development of 3D (three-dimensional) alternative substrates for in vitro cell growth has received much attention, and it is widely acknowledged that 3D cell growth is likely to more accurately reflect the in vivo tissue environments from which cultured cells are derived. 3D cell growth techniques promise numerous advantages over 2D culture, including enhanced proliferation and differentiation of stem cells. The present review focuses on the development of scaffold technologies for 3D cell culture.

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