Cancer therapy has a critical unmet need, which is to identify the best therapy for individual cancer patients.
There are currently over 250 FDA-approved drugs for cancer chemotherapy. Most of these were identified and are applied empirically, either alone or in combination, to treat cancer. Drug choice is guided largely by a) tumor type, location and stage, and b) efficacy of therapy as assessed in prior clinical trials using groups of patients. The response of individual patients to these ‘standard-of-care’ therapies often varies widely. Ineffective therapies extract an enormous toll on individual patients and their families as well as on the health care system.
A more rational and cost-effective way to improve cancer therapy, maximize the likelihood of response or cure, and minimize toxicity, would be to assess tumor response to chemotherapeutic agents before starting therapy.
We have developed a multiplexed microfluidic assay designed to identify the best therapy for individual cancer patients. This assay utilizes intact tissue in order to rapidly predict tumor chemosensitivity to a large panel of drugs prior to initiation of therapy. The assay complements current genetic characterizations of tumor variation between individuals and should greatly speed up the testing of new drugs in research settings.
I will demonstrate how bringing these microfluidic devices into the clinic will greatly enabled by the use of stereolithography, a form of 3D printing.