By Cameron Chai
MIT and Draper Laboratory have developed a device that enables drug manufacturers to develop medicines that inhibit the spread of cancer and allows them to view the migration of diseased cells.
A long-term aim of developing such a type of device is to enable medical laboratories to provide customized therapy for patients by studying the spread of cancer cells in their bodies.
Draper’s Joseph Charest and Jessie Jeon in the lab with the 3D microfluidic platform they developed
MIT is researching to identify the biological mechanisms of tumor cells that progress in the human body. Jessie Jeon, student of MIT and a member of Draper Laboratory, has been involved in developing an economical version of the three-dimensional microfluidic platform that enables observation of the spread of tumor cells. This allows researchers to develop drugs capable of slowing or inhibiting metastasis by arresting the spread of cancer cells into the vascular system through body tissue.
The existing version of device was made using rubber, a material which involved more expense for production. Rubber absorbs drugs, chemicals, and compounds that are employed in testing and do not allow the view of migration patterns of cancer cells, thereby leading to incorrect readings. Jeon is trying to develop a version employing hard plastic capable of preventing absorption and making it easier for the devices to be produced at a large-scale. This method decreases the cost per unit, thereby enabling opportunities for widespread applications among clinical labs and medical researchers.
An investigator of the project at Draper, Joseph Charest stated that by capturing the vital components of a tumor with the help of this device and allowing high-throughput in device production, the advancement of cancer therapies can occur at a rapid rate. This project is being funded by a grant provided by the National Cancer Institute’s Innovative Molecular Analysis Technologies program.