Paraffin-embedding lithography and micro-dissected tissue micro-arrays: tools for biological and pharmacological analysis of ex vivo solid tumors†
There is an urgent need and strong clinical and pharmaceutical interest in developing assays that allow for the direct testing of therapeutic agents on primary tissues. Current technologies fail to provide the required sample longevity, throughput, and integration with standard clinically proven assays to make the approach viable. Here we report a microfluidic micro-histological platform that enables ex vivo culture of a large array of prostate and ovarian cancer micro-dissected tissue (MDT) followed by direct on-chip fixation and paraffination, a process we term paraffin-embedding lithography (PEL). The result is a high density MDT-Micro Array (MDTMA) compatible with standard clinical histopathology that can be used to analyse ex vivo tumor response or resistance to therapeutic agents. The cellular morphology and tissue architecture are preserved in MDTs throughout the 15 day culture period. We also demonstrate how this methodology can be used to study molecular pathways involved in cancer by performing in-depth characterization of biological and pharmacological mechanisms such as p65 nuclear translocation via TNF stimuli, and to predict the treatment outcome in the clinic via MDT response to taxane-based therapies.