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Development of Microfluidic-based Analytical Methodology for Studying the Effects of Chemotherapy Agents on Cancer Tissue

[ Vol. 9 , Issue. 1 ]


Deborah Sylvester, Samantha M. Hattersley, Nicholas D. Stafford, Stephen J. Haswell and John Greenman   Pages 2 - 8 ( 7 )


Whilst a multitude of techniques have been employed to study the biology of tumour tissue and its response to chemotherapeutic reagents, most current methodologies do not capture the sophistication of the in vivo environment. Microfluidics however offers the ability to maintain and interrogate primary tissue samples in an environment with biomimetic flow characteristics. In this study head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) tumour biopsies have been used to investigate the performance of a microfluidic device for generating clinically-useful information. The response of fresh and cryogenically-frozen primary HNSCC or metastatic lymph node samples to chemotherapy drugs (cisplatin, 5-flurouracil or docetaxel), alone and in combination, were monitored for both proliferation (water-soluble tetrazolium salt metabolism) and cell death biomarker release (lactate dehydrogenase, LDH) “off-chip”. The frozen tissue showed no significant difference in terms of either proliferation or LDH release in comparison with the matched fresh samples. Administration of all drugs caused cell death, in a dose-response manner, with the combination showing the greatest amount of cytotoxicity particularly at days 8 and 9; correlating well with published clinical data. The system described here offers an innovative method for studying the tumour microenvironment in vitro and, through incorporation of relevant analytical modules, provides the basis of a pre-clinical device that can be used to define personalised treatment regimens.


5-flurouracil, Cisplatin, Docetaxel, Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, Lactate dehydrogenase, Microfluidics, Tumour microenvironment


Centre for Biomedical Research, Postgraduate Medical Institute, University of Hull, Cottingham Road, Kingston upon Hull, HU6 7RX, UK.

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