Tumor spheroid-on-a-chip: a standardized microfluidic culture platform for investigating tumor angiogenesis†
The field of microfluidics-based three-dimensional (3D) cell culture system is rapidly progressing from academic proof-of-concept studies to valid solutions to real-world problems. Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS)-based platform has been widely adopted as in vitro platforms for mimicking tumor microenvironment. However, PDMS has not been welcomed as a standardized commercial application for preclinical screening due to inherent material limitations that make it difficult to scale-up production. Here, we present an injection-molded plastic array 3D spheroid culture platform (Sphero-IMPACT). The platform is made of polystyrene (PS) in a standardized 96-well plate format with a user-friendly interface. This interface describes a simpler design that incorporates a tapered hole in the center of the rail to pattern a large spheroid with 3D extracellular matrix and various cell types. This hole is designed to accommodate standard pipette tip for automated system. The platform that mediate open microfluidics allows implement spontaneous fluid patterning with high repeatability from the end user. To demonstrate versatile use of the platform, we developed 3D perfusable blood vessel network and tumor spheroid assays. In addition, we established a tumor spheroid induced angiogenesis model that can be applicable for drug screening. Sphero-IMPACT has the potential to provide a robust and reproducible in vitro assay related to vascularized cancer research. This easy-to-use, ready-to-use platform can be translated into an enhanced preclinical model that faithfully reflects the complex tumor microenvironment.