Microfluidic Device for Personalized Cancer Drug Screening

Principal Investigator: Albert Folch

It is difficult to predict which drugs will be most effective against cancers as their efficacy can be patient-specific. Doctors often choose therapies guided by population-based averages that do not reflect the differences between tumors or between patients with a specific type of tumor. DNA sequencing can provide some information about the type of tumor, but the tumor microenvironment can also play a factor in how it responds to medication. However, there are currently no methods to test potential drugs on a tumor with a preserved 3D microenvironment. Biopsy samples are often homogenized before they are tested against different therapies.

The inventors have developed a microfluidic apparatus that allows needle core biopsy samples or tumor slices to be tested with a large number of drugs while preserving the tissue architecture and tumor microenvironment. The novel design allows for a whole biopsy sample to be placed in a chamber, different combinations of channels can be opened to release reagents/drugs, and the tumor response to them can be observed to identify the best treatment option. These reagents are drawn through the microchannels into the tissue sample through evaporative pumping.

• This device can be used to determine tumor responses to many different types of drugs. 

• There may be other diseases that respond to treatments differently due to the microenvironment. This device could be used to test treatment options for other types of diseases where the microenvironment is important. 

• The microfluidic device allows for the testing of many different types of drugs on one biopsy sample. 

• This method is more accurate in identifying the tumor because the tissue architecture and tumor microenvironment is preserved, which can often affect drug interactions. 

• Microfluidic devices are compact, easy-to-use, and do not require a myriad of equipment.

For more info, contact: Ryan Buckmaster