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Issue 1, 2016
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A high-throughput mechanofluidic screening platform for investigating tumor cell adhesion during metastasis

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Abstract

The metastatic spread of cancer is a major barrier to effective and curative therapies for cancer. During metastasis, tumor cells intravasate into the vascular system, survive in the shear forces and immunological environment of the circulation, and then extravasate into secondary tumor sites. Biophysical forces are potent regulators of cancer biology and are key in many of the steps of metastasis. In particular, the adhesion of circulating cells is highly dependent upon competing forces between cell adhesion receptors and the shear stresses due to fluid flow. Conventional in vitro assays for drug development and the mechanistic study of metastasis are often carried out in the absence of fluidic forces and, consequently, are poorly representative of the true biology of metastasis. Here, we present a novel high-throughput approach to studying cell adhesion under flow that uses a multi-well, mechanofluidic flow system to interrogate adhesion of cancer cell to endothelial cells, extracellular matrix and platelets under physiological shear stresses. We use this system to identify pathways and compounds that can potentially be used to inhibit cancer adhesion under flow by screening anti-inflammatory compounds, integrin inhibitors and a kinase inhibitor library. In particular, we identify several small molecule inhibitors of FLT-3 and AKT that are potent inhibitors of cancer cell adhesion to endothelial cells and platelets under flow. In addition, we found that many kinase inhibitors lead to increased adhesion of cancer cells in flow-based but not static assays. This finding suggests that even compounds that reduce cell proliferation might also enhance cancer cell adhesion during metastasis. Overall, our results validate a novel platform for investigating the mechanisms of cell adhesion under biophysical flow conditions and identify several potential inhibitors of cancer cell adhesion during metastasis.

Graphical abstract: A high-throughput mechanofluidic screening platform for investigating tumor cell adhesion during metastasis

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Publication details

The article was received on 18 Aug 2015, accepted on 09 Nov 2015 and first published on 09 Nov 2015


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C5LC00994D
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Citation: Lab Chip, 2016,16, 142-152
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    A high-throughput mechanofluidic screening platform for investigating tumor cell adhesion during metastasis

    A. Spencer, C. Spruell, S. Nandi, M. Wong, M. Creixell and A. B. Baker, Lab Chip, 2016, 16, 142
    DOI: 10.1039/C5LC00994D

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