Research ArticleBioengineering

An implantable microdevice to perform high-throughput in vivo drug sensitivity testing in tumors

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Science Translational Medicine  22 Apr 2015:
Vol. 7, Issue 284, pp. 284ra57
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3010564

Drug-releasing implant tests cancer’s resolve

Predicting whether a patient will respond to a drug is not easy, often relying on empirical evidence. Toward personalized medicine, animal models of patient tumors have been developed as well as engineered cell-material combinations meant to replicate a tumor in vitro. But the true test of whether a tumor responds to a drug will be by evaluating the tumor itself, within its own microenvironment. To this end, Jonas et al. created miniature drug delivery vessels that can be implanted with a standard biopsy needle directly into the tumor. These vessels, less than 1 mm in diameter, contained up to 16 microwells that each released a bolus of drug into the surrounding tumor tissue. The device and its surrounding tissue were then removed with a larger coring needle to see if the cancer cells had responded to the drug—or combination of drugs. In mouse models of melanoma, breast, or prostate cancers, the local response to a common chemotherapeutic, doxorubicin, matched the tumor response to systemic therapy. Furthermore, in a mouse model of triple-negative breast cancer, tumor sensitivity to five different locally delivered cancer drugs was identical to tumor response after intravenous administration of drug; for instance, tumors were most responsive to paclitaxel and least responsive to lapatinib. Such tiny drug-releasing devices can be implanted at different locations within the tumor, overcoming issues with tumor heterogeneity, and allowing for reproducible evaluation of drug sensitivity directly within the patient.

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