Organ-on-a-Chip Platforms for Drug Screening and Delivery in Tumor Cells: A Systematic Review

Cancers (Basel). 2022 Feb 13;14(4):935. doi: 10.3390/cancers14040935.


The development of cancer models that rectify the simplicity of monolayer or static cell cultures physiologic microenvironment and, at the same time, replicate the human system more accurately than animal models has been a challenge in biomedical research. Organ-on-a-chip (OoC) devices are a solution that has been explored over the last decade. The combination of microfluidics and cell culture allows the design of a dynamic microenvironment suitable for the evaluation of treatments' efficacy and effects, closer to the response observed in patients. This systematic review sums the studies from the last decade, where OoC with cancer cell cultures were used for drug screening assays. The studies were selected from three databases and analyzed following the research guidelines for systematic reviews proposed by PRISMA. In the selected studies, several types of cancer cells were evaluated, and the majority of treatments tested were standard chemotherapeutic drugs. Some studies reported higher drug resistance of the cultures on the OoC devices than on 2D cultures, which indicates the better resemblance to in vivo conditions of the former. Several studies also included the replication of the microvasculature or the combination of different cell cultures. The presence of vasculature can influence positively or negatively the drug efficacy since it contributes to a greater diffusion of the drug and also oxygen and nutrients. Co-cultures with liver cells contributed to the evaluation of the systemic toxicity of some drugs metabolites. Nevertheless, few studies used patient cells for the drug screening assays.

Keywords: cancer cells; cell culture; drug delivery; drug screening; hard tissues and organs; microbioreactor; microfluidics; nanoparticles; organ-on-a-chip; organoids.

Publication types

  • Review