Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Nolan Cancer Letters 2020.pdf (1.32 MB)
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Preclinical models for neuroblastoma: Advances and challenges.

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-03-24, 15:16 authored by JC Nolan, Thomas FrawleyThomas Frawley, J Tighe, H Soh, Caroline CurtinCaroline Curtin, Olga PiskarevaOlga Piskareva
Neuroblastoma is a paediatric cancer of the sympathetic nervous system and the most common solid tumour of infancy, contributing to 15% of paediatric oncology deaths. Current therapies are not effective in the long-term treatment of almost 80% of patients with this clinically aggressive disease. The primary challenge in the identification and validation of new agents for paediatric drug development is the accurate representation of tumour biology and diversity. In addition to this limitation, the low incidence of neuroblastoma makes the recruitment of eligible patients for early phase clinical trials highly challenging and highlights the need for robust preclinical testing to ensure that the best treatments are selected. The research field requires new preclinical models, technologies, and concepts to tackle these problems. Tissue engineering offers attractive tools to assist in the development of three-dimensional (3D) cell models using various biomaterials and manufacturing approaches that recreate the geometry, mechanics, heterogeneity, metabolic gradients, and cell communication of the native tumour microenvironment. In this review, we discuss current experimental models and assess their abilities to reflect the structural organisation and physiological conditions of the human body, in addition to current and new techniques to recapitulate the tumour niche using tissue-engineered platforms. Finally, we will discuss the possible use of novel 3D in vitro culture systems to address open questions in neuroblastoma biology.


Neuroblastoma UK Project Grant

National Children's Research Centre Project Grant

The Fulbright-HRB Health Impact Scholar Award

Science Foundation Ireland

Wellcome Trust Vacation Summer Studentship

StAR International Summer Studentship

Enterprise Partnership Scheme - Irish Research Council Postgraduate Fellowship



The original article is available at

Published Citation

Nolan JC, Frawley T, Tighe J, Soh H, Curtin C, Piskareva O. Preclinical models for neuroblastoma: Advances and challenges. Cancer Letters. 2020;474:53-62.

Publication Date

18 January 2020

PubMed ID



  • Amber (Advanced Material & Bioengineering Research) Centre
  • Anatomy and Regenerative Medicine
  • RCSI Tissue Engineering Group (TERG)
  • School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences

Research Area

  • Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Cancer
  • Biomaterials and Regenerative Medicine
  • Immunity, Infection and Inflammation




  • Published Version (Version of Record)