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: Following a protein's travel inside cells is key to improving patient monitoring, drug development

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Cloaked DNA nanodevices survive pilot mission

Apr 22, 2014

It's a familiar trope in science fiction: In enemy territory, activate your cloaking device. And real-world viruses use similar tactics to make themselves invisible to the immune system. Now scientists at ...

Blu-ray player detects microorganisms and toxins on discs

Feb 19, 2014

In addition to storing films, optical discs can be used to detect microorganisms, toxins, allergens and tumoral biomarkers. Blu-ray technology has allowed researchers at the Polytechnic University of Valencia ...

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

The anti-inflammatory factory

Apr 22, 2014

Russian scientists, in collaboration with their colleagues from Pittsburgh University, have discovered how lipid mediators are produced. The relevant paper was published in Nature Chemistry. Lipid mediators are molecules that p ...

Breakthrough points to new drugs from nature

Apr 16, 2014

Researchers at Griffith University's Eskitis Institute have developed a new technique for discovering natural compounds which could form the basis of novel therapeutic drugs.

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.)

More news stories