A paradigm shift is a fascinating, delicate, necessary and momentous occurrence. To oust the status quo and dethrone a prevailing theory or traditional modalities of thought, compelling evidence and earth shattering revelations are often met with a harsh resistance. Creating a shift in scientific frame of thought, can be a slow and frustrating grind. Gaining a captive and receptive audience to a groundbreaking or game changing message is presented with no shortage of challenges including basic habit based thought “ this is the way it has always been” - to political or economic hurdles. Even the spherical earth theory suggested by Pythagoras and others in the 6th century BC did not entirely gain acceptance until 1522 when Magellan’s crew completed their circumnavigation of the globe. Believe it or not, even this is apparently still up for debate by “flat earth theorists.”
It seems humanity has often struggled with challenging conventional thought patterns. Those who grip tightly to the old ways without questioning their validity, pose the largest threat to progress. In the case of flat earth theorists, some have even “cooked” the data, snipping and molding to fit their desired hypothesis.
The transition from 2D to 3D cell culture is no exception. Of course, I am not suggesting that those still culturing in 2D are “cooking”, merely that many are wearing blinders. Most lab biologists still culture their cells using some 2D method such as flasks, plates or even bioreactors. Despite a plethora of compelling evidence demonstrating that 3D culture is superior to 2D for an array of reasons
, many labs have been slow or hesitant to adopt 3D cell culture technologies.
It is known that 3D cell culture better represents the way our cells behave in vivo
and that 2D cultured cells do not respond or behave as those in the body. Decades of research have been conducted using 2D methods and billions of pharma dollars have been poured into this model, making the switch to 3D challenging and expensive. The proverbial face palm occurs when we realize… the drugs which were so effective in 2D cells cultures are not at all effective in 3D, animals or humans
Cell culture is now well into the 21st century with most laboratories (outside of tissue engineering groups) never having used 3D cell culture methods. I hope during my career, that I witness this shift dramatically. We can’t properly study the organization and function of cells and tissues, without first emulating them.