Microfluidic Device Mimics Tumor Microenvironment, Helps Drug Discovery Efforts

February 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: Manufacturing platform makes intricate biocompatible micromachines

Related Stories

Novel technique helps ID elusive molecules

December 21, 2016

Among the most important molecules in the living world are sugars or carbohydrates, which play a vital role in life processes. Sugars provide the main source of fuel for the body, protect muscles from damage and contribute ...

Fast, efficient sperm tails inspire nanobiotechnology

December 2, 2016

Just like workers in a factory, enzymes can create a final product more efficiently if they are stuck together in one place and pass the raw material from enzyme to enzyme, assembly line-style. That's according to scientists ...

Recommended for you

Scientists develop first catalysed reaction using iron salts

January 20, 2017

Scientists at the University of Huddersfield have developed a new chemical reaction that is catalysed using simple iron salts – an inexpensive, abundant and sustainable alternative to costlier and scarcer metals. The research ...

Chemists cook up new nanomaterial and imaging method

January 20, 2017

A team of chemists led by Northwestern University's William Dichtel has cooked up something big: The scientists created an entirely new type of nanomaterial and watched it form in real time—a chemistry first.

Gecko inspired adhesive can attach and detach using UV light

January 19, 2017

(Phys.org)—A small team of researchers at Kiel University in Germany has developed new technology that emulates the way a gecko uses its toes to cling to flat surfaces. In their paper published in the journal Science Robotics, ...

Treated carbon pulls radioactive elements from water

January 19, 2017

Researchers at Rice University and Kazan Federal University in Russia have found a way to extract radioactivity from water and said their discovery could help purify the hundreds of millions of gallons of contaminated water ...

1 comment

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.)

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.