Pancreatic cancer treatment frequently fails as patients tend to quickly become resistant to chemotherapy agents. Current drug discovery and screening protocols focus on one cancer cell subtype, which may lead to overestimation of therapeutic efficiency. A microfluidic device engineered by researchers from Purdue University and Middle East Technical University, Turkey, tests prospective cancer drugs on multiple tumor cell subtypes and can reveal drug resistance that may occur due to the interaction of different cancer subtypes.

While most microfluidic devices designed for such research examine late-stage tumor growth, the new platform hosts cell lines from an animal model or patient before gene mutation has happened, enabling observation of all stages of tumor progression. The cellular material is supported in specially designed collagen channels that function as the pancreatic duct on a very small scale.

The system was used to simulate the intra-tumoral heterogeneity of driver mutations to mimic two different stages of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma progression and to demonstrate that drug resistance can be induced by cancer cell interactions between different subgroups. gemcitabine resistance of the cells.

The tumor model described in Lab on a Chip can provide a useful testbed to study interaction mechanisms between heterogeneous cancer cell subpopulations and to determine which therapies are most effective at preventing mutations from happening.

Cross-sectional view of microfluidic device operation. Source: Hye-ran Moon et al.Cross-sectional view of microfluidic device operation. Source: Hye-ran Moon et al.

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