bims-miftum Biomed News
on Microfluidics and 3D tumor models
Issue of 2020‒07‒05
three papers selected by
Nidhi Menon
Virginia Tech


  1. Sci Rep. 2020 Jul 02. 10(1): 10805
    Jain R, Chittiboyina S, Chang CL, Lelièvre SA, Savran CA.
      Models using 3D cell culture techniques are increasingly accepted as the most biofidelic in vitro representations of tissues for research. These models are generated using biomatrices and bulk populations of cells derived from tissues or cell lines. We present an alternate method to culture individually selected cells in relative isolation from the rest of the population under physiologically relevant matrix conditions. Matrix gel islands are spotted on a cell culture dish to act as support for receiving and culturing individual single cells; a glass capillary-based microfluidic setup is used to extract each desired single cell from a population and seed it on top of an island. Using examples of breast and colorectal cancers, we show that individual cells evolve into tumors or aspects of tumors displaying different characteristics of the initial cancer type and aggressiveness. By implementing a morphometry assay with luminal A breast cancer, we demonstrate the potential of the proposed approach to study phenotypic heterogeneity. Results reveal that intertumor heterogeneity increases with time in culture and that varying degrees of intratumor heterogeneity may originate from individually seeded cells. Moreover, we observe that a positive relationship exists between fast growing tumors and the size and heterogeneity of their nuclei.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-67674-3
  2. Lab Chip. 2020 Jul 02.
    Sewell-Loftin MK, Katz JB, George SC, Longmore GD.
      An improved understanding of biomechanical factors that control tumor development, including angiogenesis, could explain why few of the promising treatment strategies discovered via in vitro models translate well into in vivo or clinical studies. The ability to manipulate and in real-time study the multiple independent biomechanical properties on cellular activity has been limited, primarily due to limitations in traditional in vitro platforms or the inability to manipulate such factors in vivo. We present a novel microfluidic platform that mimics the vascularized tumor microenvironment with independent control of interstitial flow and mechanical strain. The microtissue platform design isolates mechanically-stimulated angiogenesis in the tumor microenvironment, by manipulating interstitial flow to eliminate soluble factors that could drive blood vessel growth. Our studies demonstrate that enhanced mechanical strain induced by cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) promotes angiogenesis in microvasculature models, even when preventing diffusion of soluble factors to the growing vasculature. Moreover, small but significant decreases in micro-strains induced by inhibited CAFs were sufficient to reduce angiogenesis. Ultimately, we believe this platform represents a significant advancement in the ability to investigate biomechanical signals while controlling for biochemical signals, with a potential to be utilized in fields beyond cancer research.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1039/d0lc00145g
  3. Altern Lab Anim. 2020 Jul 02. 261192920929701
    Nascimento-Gonçalves E, Ferreira R, Oliveira PA, Colaço BJA.
      Prostate cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers worldwide, particularly in elderly populations. To mitigate the expected increase in prostate cancer-related morbidity and mortality as a result of an expanding aged population, safer and more effective therapeutics are required. To this end, plenty of research is focusing on the mechanisms underlying cancer initiation and development, the metastatic process and on the discovery of new therapies. While animal models are used (mainly rats and mice) for the study of prostate cancer, alternative models and methods are increasingly being considered to replace, or at least reduce, the number of animals used in this particular field of research. In this review, we cover some of the alternative models that are currently available for use in the study of prostate cancer, including: mathematical models; 2-D and 3-D cell cultures; microfluidic devices; the chicken egg chorioallantoic membrane-based model; and zebrafish embryo-based models. The main advantages and limitations, as well as some examples of applications, are given for each type of model. According to our analysis, immortalised cell lines are still the most commonly used models in the field of prostate cancer research. However, the use of alternative models for prostate cancer research will likely become more prevalent in the coming years partly because of the increasing societal pressure to reduce the numbers of laboratory animals. In this context, the development and dissemination of effective non-animal alternative models assumes particular relevance and will be instrumental in leveraging their success. Taking these perspectives into account, we believe that technological advances will lead to more effective cell culture systems, namely 3-D cultures or organ-on-a-chip devices, which can be used to replace animal-based models in prostate cancer research.
    Keywords:  Three Rs; alternative methods; alternative models; animal experimentation; cancer; cancer models; prostate
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1177/0261192920929701