A microfluidic cancer-on-chip platform predicts drug response using organotypic tumor slice culture

Cancer Res. 2021 Dec 6;canres.0799.2021. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-21-0799. Online ahead of print.


Optimal treatment of cancer requires diagnostic methods to facilitate therapy choice and prevent ineffective treatments. Direct assessment of therapy response in viable tumor specimens could fill this diagnostic gap. Therefore, we designed a microfluidic platform for assessment of patient treatment response using tumor tissue slices under precisely controlled growth conditions. The optimized Cancer-on-Chip (CoC) platform maintained viability and sustained proliferation of breast and prostate tumor slices for 7 days. No major changes in tissue morphology or gene expression patterns were observed within this time frame, suggesting that the CoC system provides a reliable and effective way to probe intrinsic chemotherapeutic sensitivity of tumors. The customized CoC platform accurately predicted cisplatin and apalutamide treatment response in breast and prostate tumor xenograft models, respectively. The culture period for breast cancer could be extended up to 14 days without major changes in tissue morphology and viability. These culture characteristics enable assessment of treatment outcomes and open possibilities for detailed mechanistic studies.