Three-dimensional (3D) tumor culture techniques are gaining popularity as in vitro models of tumoral tissue analogues. Despite the widespread interest, need, and present-day effort, most of the 3D tumor culturing methodologies have not gone beyond the inventors’ laboratories. This, in turn, limits their applicability and standardization. In this study, we introduce a straightforward and user-friendly approach based on standard 96-well plates with basic amenities for growing 3D tumors in a scaffold-free/scaffold-based format. Hanging drop preparation can be easily employed by flipping a universal 96-well plate. The droplets of the medium generated by the well-plate flip (WPF) method can be easily modified to address various mechanisms and processes in cell biology, including cancer. To demonstrate the applicability and practicality of the conceived approach, we utilized human colorectal carcinoma cells (HCT116) to first show the generation of large scaffold-free 3D tumor spheroids over 1.5 mm in diameter in single-well plates. As a proof-of-concept, we also demonstrate matrix-assisted tumor culture techniques in advancing the broader use of 3D culture systems. The conceptualized WPF approach can be adapted for a range of applications in both basic and applied biological/engineering research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number898699
JournalFrontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology
StatePublished - Jul 4 2022


  • 3D culture
  • flip well-plate
  • hanging drop
  • scaffold-based
  • tumor spheroid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biotechnology
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Histology


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