An artificial 3D lung could revolutionise lung cancer treatment.FLICKR: University of Liverpool

Two Cambridge cancer researchers, Dr Michaela Frye and Dr Ferda Oeztuerk-Winder, are developing a game-changing solution to tackle lung cancer: growing 3D lungs.

They are planning to develop stem cells into lung tissue in a bioreactor – "a smart piece of kit that creates the perfect conditions for growth”. Stem cells have the ability to develop into the many different types of cell found in a lung. The bioreactor will provide ideal conditions for human lung tissue growth, and a more realistic environment for developing lung tissue than a Petri dish.

“The lung is a complex organ and we struggle to see the full picture. Lung cancer is intelligent; to beat it we need to learn more about how it grows, how it develops and how it becomes resistant to treatments”, said Dr Frye.

To study lung cancer, the scientists plan to introduce cancerous cells into the model tissue to understand how they interact with the healthy lung cells.

"It could be game-changing. We can learn about how cells behave, choose the right drugs for the patients and find out why some people develop resistance [to a particular treatment]”, commented Dr Oeztuerk-Winder.

Dr Frye echoed her sentiments: “this research could mean a future where it’s possible to take an individual patient’s cancer cells and rapidly test treatments on them using a 3D model lung, helping to understand which ones would be the most effective.”

To accelerate the research program, Dr Frye and Dr Oeztuerk-Winder are aiming to raise £75,000 on the crowdfunding website Indiegogo.

Cancer Research UK also supports their campaign, and the funds raised will be used to cover the costs of growing and maintaining the lung tissue over the course of a year.

You can support the campaign here.