Cell culture system could offer cancer breakthrough

August 29, 2017

A new cell culture system that provides a tool for preclinical cancer drug development and screening has been developed by researchers in the USA.

The team, led by scientists from Princeton University, New Jersey, created a microfluidic cell culture device that allows the direct, real-time observation of the development of drug resistance in cancer cells.

They report their results today in the journal Convergent Science Physical Oncology.

Senior author Professor Robert Austin, from Princeton, said: "Primary and metastatic cancers develop as complex ecosystems that continue to defy cure through conventional medical therapies. For example, cancers universally defeat treatment by chemotherapy through the emergence of drug resistant cells.

"Current therapies are developed through in vitro drug screening and tissue culture techniques, which can detect initial drug sensitivity but are not designed to detect and measure drug resistance. Similarly, in vivo experiments in mice are designed to study sensitivity to therapies and not mechanisms of resistance, because the animals succumb to the cancer."

Co-author Dr Gonzalo Torga, from Johns Hopkins Medical Institute, Baltimore, said: "Animal testing is the most effective way to test the clinical response to new drugs, but it can be extremely costly and take many months.

"Our system is an in-vitro, self-contained, microfluidic cell culture system. It reproducibly creates the complex microenvironments in which cancer cells develop."

The team's system acts as an 'evolution accelerator', allowing the study of key interactions between host cells and cancer cells, and their response to the drug, to be carried out in a much shorter timeframe.

Dr Torga said: "The system allows us to carry out continuous observation of the interactions of multiple cell types at cell-by-cell resolution, and observe the development of drug resistance in the cancer cells in real time.

"Significantly, our results show that in response to chemotherapy, cancer cells can become drug resistant in just 10 days."

The device also allows quantitative analyses of motility and propagation of heterogeneous cell populations and can carry out downstream analyses of metabolites and single cells.

Additionally, the device can be fitted onto a standard epifluoresence microscope without the cost and inconvenience of a full incubating enclosure, and carry out three different experiments simultaneously over a period of several weeks of continuous real-time observation.

Professor Austin said: "This means the technology we have developed has the potential for broad application in preclinical drug development and assessments of likely drug effectiveness."

IOP Publishing

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.