In Vivo Applications

Xeno-free Hydrogel for PDX and CDX

VitroGel xeno-free (animal-free) hydrogels are excellent for injection and a superior alternative to the animal-based extracellular matrix (ECM) for patient-derived or cell-derived xenograft (PDX & CDX) applications. By avoiding the uncertainty of unknown components from the animal-based ECM, VitroGel hydrogels give well-defined- and full control of the- microenvironment for consistent results.

The stable room temperature properties of VitroGel make it extremely smooth to work with for sample preparation and injection.  Researchers have operational assurance and peace of mind with the long-term injectable status and the worry-free issue of possible needle clogging. After injection, the high cell retention rate ensures a rapid cell growth rate with a consistent, smooth/round tumor shape.


Simply mix hydrogel solution with cells/compounds at room temperature, and the hydrogel is ready for injection in 15 minutes. The system is biocompatible without showing a toxic or inflammatory response during the animal safety study.

maintain an injectable status for hours at room temperature or at 37°C.

VitroGel has a unique rheological property that can maintain an excellent injectable status for hours after mixing with cells.  Unlike the animal-based extracellular matrix, VitroGel is room temperature stable with a neutral pH. Researchers do not need to worry about putting the solution on ice, the fast gel crosslinking, or the rush for injection.

VitroGel hydrogel system has a unique shear-thinning and rapid recovery rheological property. After mixing the hydrogel solution and the cell medium, a soft hydrogel will form, which can be used for injection at this stage. (Check: How Gelation Works in VitroGel)

VitroGel hydrogel injection Protocol Video Demonstration

Under the mechanical shearing force such as injection through a syringe, the soft hydrogel performs a gel-sol transition and becomes free-flowing status. However, once the shearing force ceases, the mechanical strength of the hydrogel can rapidly recover with a sol-gel transition and become a hydrogel status again.

With this unique injectable property, cells or compounds can be pre-mixed with VitroGel solution and maintained as a homogeneous mixture in the injectable state for in vivo applications.

The unique shear-thinning and rapid recovery properties create high cell retention at the injection site.


Two human-derived cancer cell lines (H2170 lung cancer cells and PC3 prostate cancer cells) were mixed with VitroGel and Matrigel, respectively, and xenografted into Hera BioLabs’ SRG Rat model for comparison.

Read the white paper

VitroGel shows better tumor growth and tumor size over Matrigel for PDX lung cancer tissue fragments.  The PDX R&D Core at the Jackson Laboratory comments on the consistency and smooth operational use with VitroGel with the mouse not showing darkening or bruising at the injection as opposed to Matrigel.
Data provided by PDX R&D Core, The Jackson Laboratory.

Ultra-sensitive responsive near-infrared fluorescent nitroreductase probe with strong specificity for imaging tumor and detecting the invasiveness of tumor cells

Ref. Spectrochimica Acta Part A, 268, 120634.

RNF208, an estrogen-inducible E3 ligase, targets soluble Vimentin to suppress metastasis in triple-negative breast cancers

Ref. Nature Communications, 10(1), 5805.


Tissue TypeCell NameVitroGel Type(s) Injection SiteTimeTumor Formation RateTumor Size
Breast Cancer
V-RGD, VHMSubcutaneous4-6 weeks100%20 mm
Breast Cancer
V-RGD, VHMSubcutaneous & tail vein
4-6 weeks100%20 mm
Breast Cancer
EMT6 Murine Mammary Carcinoma CellsVHMBalb/C Mammary Fat Pad injection
Not disclosed90%Not disclosed
Human Oral CavityHSC-2 Squamous Cancer Cells
VHMSubcutaneous2-3 weeks100%10-15 mm
Human Tongue
CAL-27 Squamous Cancer Cells
VHMSubcutaneous2-3 weeks100%15-25 mm
Human Fibrosarcoma
VHMSubcutaneous4 weeks100%30-40 mm
Human Renal Cancer
VHMSubcutaneous8 weeks100%25 mm
Lung Cancer
PDX Lung Cancer Tissue Fragments
VHMSubcutaneous8 weeks100%500 + mm^3
Lung Cancer
H2170 Lung Cancer Cells
VHMSubcutaneous7 weeks100%12,000+mm^3
Lung Cancer
H1975 Cells
VHMIntraperitoneal (IP) Not disclosed100%Not disclosed
B16-OVA MO4 Mouse Melanoma Cells
VHMSubcutaneous7-9 days>70%5-7 mm
Subcutaneous3 weeks100%10-15 mm
Prostate Cancer
Mouse Prostate Cancer Cells
Subcutaneous7-9 days100%5-7 mm
Prostate Cancer PC3 Prostate Cancer Cells
Subcutaneous6 weeks100%12,000+mm^3

*The data above is based on internal studies and customer feedbacks.

VHM=VitroGel Hydrogel Matrix  |  V-RGD=VitroGel RGD  |  V-ORG-4=VitroGel ORGANOID-4

The list is constantly growing.  Please contact support if you do not see an interested cell type not listed. | 
View tables of a cells cultured in vitro with VitroGel:  Cell Type Hydrogel Guide

Selecting the functional hydrogel for your xenograft project

All VitroGel hydrogels are injectable and excellent for xenografts.

While we offer a repertoire of hydrogels, both ready-to-use, and tunable high-concentration hydrogels for xenograft, we recommend starting with VitroGel® Hydrogel Matrix as it is widely used for xenograft applications.

VitroGel Hydrogel Matrix supports a wide variety of cell types including many cancer cells, epithelial cells, stromal cells, and primary cells. Great for cells needing strong cell-matrix interactions.

VitroGel® Hydrogel Matrix
(Cat No. VHM01)

Below are some more hydrogel recommendations based on the popular applications:

Our xeno-free functional hydrogel system is designed based on the application needs (Ready-To-Use VitroGel) and the biochemical/biophysical properties needs (High Concentration VitroGel). Researchers have full control of the supplement/growth factors in the hydrogel-cell mixture. Scientists can choose the hydrogels that fit their research objectives.

Ready-To-Use Hydrogels

> Ready-To-Use VitroGel

The ready-to-use VitroGel hydrogels have optimized formulations of multi-functional ligands and concentrations. Each hydrogel is ready to mix directly with cells/compound suspension, offering an excellent balance of simplicity and versatility. (Click the image on the right to view all different types of ready-to-use VitroGel)

High Concentration Hydrogels

> High Concentration VitroGel

The high concentration hydrogels allow the flexibility to manipulate the mechanical strength of the hydrogel (tunable) by adjusting the hydrogel concentration with the VitroGel Dilution Solution. Each high-concentration hydrogel comes with a functional ligand modification allowing scientists to investigate the cell behaviors with complete control of hydrogel properties. (Click the image on the right to check all different types of high-concentration VitroGel)

  • VitroGel® RGD: One of the most popular hydrogels for multiple in vivo applications. Supports a wide range of cell types with excellent cell-matrix interactions. Great for multiple cell therapy applications. (TWG003)
  • VitroGel® MMP: Great hydrogel degradability to support rapid cell expansion, and invasion/migration. Excellent for tumor study and xenograft. (TWG010)
  • VitroGel® 3D: Pure hydrogel matrix without binding ligand modification. Great for simple target delivery and control release. (TWG001)

Case Studies/Research Highlights

Matrigel vs VitroGel comparison in lung cancer cell line H2170 and prostate cancer cell line PC3 hosted in male SRG Rats.

VitroGel can support the growth of xenografted human lung and prostate cancer tissues at least as well as Matrigel in a rodent host with fast cell growth kinetics with low standard deviation.


RNF208, an estrogen-inducible E3 ligase, targets soluble Vimentin to suppress metastasis in triple-negative breast cancers.

Xenografting of triple-negative breast cancer cells into a mouse to test for tumor growth in response to the upregulation of a ubiquitin-related ligase protein.


OSA 1777: A New Tool in the Fight Against Bone Cancer

Introducing OSA 1777, a cell line derived from recurring osteosarcoma, which unlike existing cell lines, forms spheroids in 3D culture reminiscent of osteosarcoma tumors.


Related publications Using VitroGel in xenograft Application