Microfluidic device for expedited tumor growth towards drug evaluation
Patient derived organoids have emerged as robust preclinical models for screening anti-cancer therapeutics. Current 2D culturing methods do not provide physiological responses to therapeutics, therefore 3D models are being developed to better reproduce physiological responses. 3D culturing however often requires large initial cell populations and one week to one month to grow tumors ready for therapeutic testing. As a solution a 3D culturing system has been developed capable of producing physiologically relevant tumors in an expedited fashion while only requiring a small number of initial cancer cells. A bi-layer microfluidic system capable of facilitating active convective nutrient supply to populations of cancer cells facilitates expedited growth of cancer cells when starting with populations as small as 8 cells. The system has been shown to function well with adherent and non-adherent cell types by expediting cell growth by a factor ranging from 1.27 to 4.76 greater than growth under static conditions. Utilizing such an approach has enable to formation of tumors ready for therapeutic screening within 3 days and the ability to perform therapeutic screening within the microfluidic system is demonstrated. A mathematical model has been developed which allows for adjustments to be made to the dynamic delivery of nutrients in order to efficiently use culture media without excessive waste. We believe this work to be the first attempt to grow cancers in an expedited fashion utilizing only a convective nutrient supply within a microfluidic system which also facilitates on-device therapeutic screening. The developed microfluidic system and cancer growth method have the potential to offer improved drug screening for patients in clinical settings.