Microfluidic Device Mimics Tumor Microenvironment, Helps Drug Discovery Efforts

Feb 23, 2009

One of the challenges that cancer researchers face in designing new antitumor agents is that of predicting how drug molecules will behave in the complex microenvironment that surrounds a tumor. In particular, tumors create all sorts of chemical and physical barriers that limit how much drug is able to enter a tumor, let alone reach cells deep within a tumor. Now, Neil Forbes, Ph.D., and his colleagues at the University of Massachusetts have built a microfluidic device that can mimic these chemical and physical barriers, providing researchers with a new screening tool that may help with the design of more effective anticancer drugs.

Dr. Forbes and his colleagues, who reported their findings in the journal Lab on a Chip, designed this device to reproduce the three-dimensionality of a tumor, including areas of low pH and regions that contain cells resistant to therapy. To create this device, the investigators tested seven different cell growth chamber designs, using various imaging technologies to determine how closely cell masses growing in the device mimicked the behavior of a tumor. From these experiments, the investigators were able to select a growth chamber design that caused cells to grow into tumor masses that displayed heterogeneity closely resembling that of native tumors.

The investigators then used the device to study how doxorubicin, a widely used and widely studied anticancer drug, diffuses into and through a tumor. The device accurately modeled doxorubicin diffusion as seen in humans treated with this drug. The device also was able to recreate the accumulation patterns of anticancer bacteria that actively penetrate a tumor.

This work was detailed in the paper “A multipurpose microfluidic device designed to mimic microenvironment gradients and develop targeted cancer therapeutics.” An abstract of this paper is available at the journal’s Web site.

Provided by National Cancer Institute

Explore further: Major step forward in understanding of viruses as scientists unlock exact structure of Hep A virus

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New chip promising for tumor-targeting research

Sep 22, 2014

(Phys.org) —Researchers have developed a chip capable of simulating a tumor's "microenvironment" and plan to use the new system to test the effectiveness of nanoparticles and drugs that target cancer.

Wireless sensor transmits tumor pressure

Sep 20, 2014

The interstitial pressure inside a tumor is often remarkably high compared to normal tissues and is thought to impede the delivery of chemotherapeutic agents as well as decrease the effectiveness of radiation ...

Introducing the multi-tasking nanoparticle

Aug 26, 2014

Kit Lam and colleagues from UC Davis and other institutions have created dynamic nanoparticles (NPs) that could provide an arsenal of applications to diagnose and treat cancer. Built on an easy-to-make polymer, these particles ...

New device promises safer way to deliver powerful drugs

Apr 06, 2011

A new drug delivery device designed and constructed by Jie Chen, Thomas Cesario and Peter Rentzepis promises to unlock the potential of photosensitive chemicals to kill drug-resistant infections and perhaps cancer tumors ...

Recommended for you

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

E_L_Earnhardt
not rated yet Feb 24, 2009
MITOSIS RATE is sensitive to as little as ONE DEGREE
CELSIUS! REDUCE THE TEMPERATURE AND YOU REDUCE THE RATE! I have tested this in fish and my own body. IF YOU COOL THE TUMOR IT WILL SHRINK! (An established tumor may require 10 degrees below body temp.)