UCL Division of Surgery and Interventional Science



We have developed Tumouroids, three-dimensional cell cultures which resemble tumour tissues. These are used to investigate the efficacy of anti-cancer agents and for personalised medicine.

Our work

In England, over 300,000 people are diagnosed with cancer every year. While diagnostics and treatments have developed greatly over the past decade, new treatments remain expensive. There is a need for tools that enable better disease characterisation and stratification.

Tumouroids are created using collagen as the basic matrix protein. They combine compartments that mimic both the cancer mass and the surrounding microenvironment of solid tumours that contains fibroblasts and endothelial cells.

Using plastic compression to expel excess fluid makes tumouroids one of the few cancer models to have measurable and tuneable tissue stiffness - a key characteristic of solid cancers. 

Our aim is to develop this as a platform for personalised medicine - to predict the response to drugs of each patient with cancer.

Our experts

The team works across the Division of Surgery & Interventional Science and with national and international collaborators.

Prof. Marilena Loizidou

Prof. Marilena Loizidou (Group Head)

Prof. Umber Cheema

Prof. Umber Cheema (Group Head)

Prof. Sandy Macrobert

Prof. Sandy MacRobert

Prof. Nikolitsa Nomikou

Prof. Nikolitsa Nomikou

Dr Elnaz Yaghini

Dr Elnaz Yaghini

Maxine Tran

Maxine Tran

Dr Katerina Stamati

Dr Katerina Stamati

Dr Kate Ricketts

Dr Kate Ricketts

Professor Mark Emberton

Prof. Mark Emberton

Dr Pierre Gélat

Dr Pierre Gélat

Roundel icon of a silhouette in grey

Dr Hazel Welch

Roundel icon of a silhouette in grey

Dr Bala Ramesh

Divisonal Research Team

  • Tayebeh Azimi
  • Deniz Bakkalci
  • Kalliopi (Kelly) Bokea
  • Ebrahim Abdal
  • Salma Galal
  • Auxtine Micalet
  • Sami Znati
  • Andrea Balukova
  • Anuja Upadhyay
  • Tan Xu
  • Bow Chaipanichkul
  • Daniel De Silva

Funding / Partnerships

UK Research Councils (EPSRC), NIHR, Industry, and Charities, including:

  • The Royal Free Charity
  • St Peter's Trust
  • Biss-Davis Charitable Foundation
  • SCAT Bone Cancer Fund.

Select publications

Stamati K., Tran M.G.B., Emberton M., Loizidou M., Cheema U., et al. (2022). Renal tumouroids: challenges of manufacturing 3D cultures from patient derived primary cells. J. Cell Commun. Signal.

Azimi T., Loizidou M., Dwek M.V. (2020). Cancer cells grown in 3D under fluid flow exhibit an aggressive phenotype and reduced responsiveness to the anti-cancer treatment doxorubicin. Sci Rep. 2020 Jul 21;10(1):12020.

Pape J., Stamati K., Loizidou M., Emberton M., Cheema U., et al. (2020). Cancer-associated fibroblasts mediate cancer progression and remodel the tumouroid stroma. Br J Cancer 2020 Jul 9.

Stamati K., Tran, M.G.B., Emberton, M., Cheema, U., Loizidou, M., et al. (2020). The anti-angiogenic tyrosine kinase inhibitor Pazopanib kills cancer cells and disrupts endothelial networks in biomimetic 3D renal tumouroids. J Tissue Eng. May 18. eCollection 2020.

Mohammad-Hadi, L., Yaghini, E., MacRobert, A., and Loizidou, M. (2020). Synergy between photodynamic therapy and dactinomycin chemotherapy in 2D and 3D cultures of ovarian cancer cells. Int J Mol BioSci, 2020  Apr 30;21(9):3203.

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