A microfluidics platform for combinatorial drug screening on cancer biopsies

Federica Eduati, Ramesh Utharala, Dharanija Madhavan, Ulf Peter Neumann, Thomas Longerich, Thorsten Cramer, Julio Saez-Rodriguez, Christoph A. Merten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

171 Citations (Scopus)
385 Downloads (Pure)


Screening drugs on patient biopsies from solid tumours has immense potential, but is challenging due to the small amount of available material. To address this, we present here a plug-based microfluidics platform for functional screening of drug combinations. Integrated Braille valves allow changing the plug composition on demand and enable collecting >1200 data points (56 different conditions with at least 20 replicates each) per biopsy. After deriving and validating efficient and specific drug combinations for two genetically different pancreatic cancer cell lines and xenograft mouse models, we additionally screen live cells from human solid tumours with no need for ex vivo culturing steps, and obtain highly specific sensitivity profiles. The entire workflow can be completed within 48 h at assay costs of less than US$ 150 per patient. We believe this can pave the way for rapid determination of optimal personalized cancer therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2434
Number of pages13
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2018


  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols/pharmacology
  • Biopsy
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor/economics
  • Female
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays/economics
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Microfluidics/economics
  • Neoplasms/drug therapy
  • Precision Medicine/methods


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