Drug penetration into solid tumours remains a major challenge in the effective treatment of cancer. Microbubble (MB) mediated sonoporation offers a potential solution to this by enhancing the uptake of drugs into cells. Additionally, in using an ultrasound (US) trigger, drug delivery can be localised to the tumour, thus reducing the off-site toxicity associated with systemic delivery. The majority of in vitro studies involving the observation of MB-enhanced drug efficacy have been conducted on 2D monolayer cell cultures, which are known to be poor models for in vivo tumours. 3D spheroid cultures allow for the production of multicellular cultures complete with extracellular matrix (ECM) components. These cultures effectively recreate many of the physiological features of the tumour microenvironment and have been shown to be far superior to previous 2D monolayer models. However, spheroids are typically handled in well-plates in which the fluid environment is static, limiting the physiological relevance of the model. The combination of 3D cultures and microfluidics would allow for the production of a dynamic system in which spheroids are subjected to in vivo like fluid flow and shear stressesThis study presents a microfluidic device containing an array of spheroid traps, into which multiple pre-grown colorectal cancer (CRC) spheroids were loaded. Reservoirs interfaced with the chip use hydrostatic pressure to passively drive flow through the system and subject spheroids to capillary like flow velocities. The use of reservoirs also enabled multiple chips to be run in parallel, allowing for the screening of multiple therapeutic treatments (n = 690 total spheroids analysed). This microfluidic platform was used to investigate MB enhanced drug delivery and showed that co-delivery of 3 μM doxorubicin (DOX) + MB + US reduced spheroid viability to 48 ± 2%, compared to 75 ± 5% observed with 3 μM DOX alone. Delivery of drug loaded MBs (DLMBs), in which DOX-loaded liposomes (DOX-LS) were conjugated to MBs, reduced spheroid viability to 62 ± 3%, a decrease compared to the 75 ± 3% viability observed with DOX-LS in the absence of MBs + US.
Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier B.V.

References

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