A microfluidic platform for functional testing of cancer drugs on intact tumor slices

Lab Chip. 2020 May 7;20(9):1658-1675. doi: 10.1039/c9lc00811j. Epub 2020 Apr 9.


Present approaches to assess cancer treatments are often inaccurate, costly, and/or cumbersome. Functional testing platforms that use live tumor cells are a promising tool both for drug development and for identifying the optimal therapy for a given patient, i.e. precision oncology. However, current methods that utilize patient-derived cells from dissociated tissue typically lack the microenvironment of the tumor tissue and/or cannot inform on a timescale rapid enough to guide decisions for patient-specific therapy. We have developed a microfluidic platform that allows for multiplexed drug testing of intact tumor slices cultured on a porous membrane. The device is digitally-manufactured in a biocompatible thermoplastic by laser-cutting and solvent bonding. Here we describe the fabrication process in detail, we characterize the fluidic performance of the device, and demonstrate on-device drug-response testing with tumor slices from xenografts and from a patient colorectal tumor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Carbon Dioxide / chemistry
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Diffusion
  • Doxorubicin / administration & dosage
  • Doxorubicin / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Lab-On-A-Chip Devices*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / diagnostic imaging
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / drug therapy
  • Optical Imaging
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Doxorubicin