Creating multicellular tumor spheroids is critical for characterizing anticancer treatments since it may provide a better model than monolayer culture of tumor cells. Moreover, continuous dynamic perfusion allows the establishment of long term cell culture and subsequent multicellular spheroid formation. A droplet-based microfluidic system was used to form alginate beads with entrapped breast tumor cells. After gelation, the alginate beads were trapped in microsieve structures for cell culture in a continuous perfusion system. The alginate environment permitted cell proliferation and the formation of multicellular spheroids was observed. The dose-dependent response of the tumor spheroids to doxorubicin, and anticancer drug, showed multicellular resistance compared to conventional monolayer culture. The microsieve structures maintain constant location of each bead in the same position throughout the device seeding process, cell proliferation and spheroid formation, treatment with drug, and imaging, permitting temporal and spatial tracking.
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