Brain tumors still lack effective treatments, and the mechanisms of tumor progression and therapeutic resistance are unclear. Multiple parameters affect cancer prognosis (e.g., type and grade, age, location, size, and genetic mutations) and election of suitable treatments is based on preclinical models and clinical data. However, most candidate drugs fail in human trials due to inefficacy. Cell lines and tissue culture plates do not provide physiologically relevant environments, and animal models are not able to adequately mimic characteristics of disease in humans. Therefore, increasing technological advances are focusing on in vitro and computational modeling to increase the throughput and predicting capabilities of preclinical systems. The extensive use of these therapeutic agents requires a more profound understanding of the tumor-stroma interactions, including neural tissue, extracellular matrix, blood-brain barrier, astrocytes and microglia. Microphysiological brain tumor models offer physiologically relevant vascularized ‘minitumors’ that can help deciphering disease mechanisms, accelerating the drug discovery and predicting patient’s response to anticancer treatments. This article reviews progress in tumor-on-a-chip platforms that are designed to comprehend the particular roles of stromal cells in the brain tumor microenvironment.
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