A microfluidic platform for cultivating ovarian cancer spheroids and testing their responses to chemotherapies

Neda Dadgar, Alan M. Gonzalez-Suarez, Pouria Fattahi, Xiaonan Hou, John S. Weroha, Alexandre Gaspar-Maia, Gulnaz Stybayeva, Alexander Revzin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


There is increasing interest in utilizing in vitro cultures as patient avatars to develop personalized treatment for cancer. Typical cultures utilize Matrigel-coated plates and media to promote the proliferation of cancer cells as spheroids or tumor explants. However, standard culture conditions operate in large volumes and require a high concentration of cancer cells to initiate this process. Other limitations include variability in the ability to successfully establish a stable line and inconsistency in the dimensions of these microcancers for in vivo drug response measurements. This paper explored the utility of microfluidics in the cultivation of cancer cell spheroids. Six patient-derived xenograft (PDX) tumors of high-grade serous ovarian cancer were used as the source material to demonstrate that viability and epithelial marker expression in the microfluidic cultures was superior to that of Matrigel or large volume 3D cultures. To further demonstrate the potential for miniaturization and multiplexing, we fabricated multichamber microfluidic devices with integrated microvalves to enable serial seeding of several chambers followed by parallel testing of several drug concentrations. These valve-enabled microfluidic devices permitted the formation of spheroids and testing of seven drug concentrations with as few as 100,000 cancer cells per device. Overall, we demonstrate the feasibility of maintaining difficul-to-culture primary cancer cells and testing drugs in a microfluidic device. This microfluidic platform may be ideal for drug testing and personalized therapy when tumor material is limited, such as following the acquisition of biopsy specimens obtained by fine-needle aspiration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number93
JournalMicrosystems and Nanoengineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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