Researchers from SciLifeLab, Karolinska Institutet, and KTH, have described a new system, allowing direct assessment of drug or immune cell cytotoxic efficacy. The new system, based on multiplexed fluorescence screening and high-resolution imaging of two- or three-dimensional cell cultures, could be a welcomed addition to the field of precision medicine.
Analyzes of patient-specific biomarkers that can predict susceptibility to anticancer drugs or immunotherapy are vital when it comes to selecting the optimal treatment for each patient, and is a key aspect of precision medicine. The field has experienced a massive growth during recent years but more efficient methods, such as miniaturized in vitro analysis systems that requires less patient material and reagents, are in demand.
In a recent study, led by SciLifeLab researcher Björn Önfelt, researchers from KTH and Karolinska Institutet demonstrates such a system, consisting of a framework for cell culture, formation of tumor spheroids, fluorescence labelling and imaging of fixed or live cells at various magnifications directly on a multi-chambered micro-well chip. The chip, described in the journal Cell Reports Methods, was successfully used for drug cytotoxicity screening on ovarian and non-small lung cancer cells, and for cellular cytotoxicity screening targeting tumor spheroids of renal carcinoma and ovarian carcinoma with natural killer cells (NKs) from healthy donors.
“The study shows mainly proof-of-principle experiments, but we are currently following this up with studies where the method is used to study donor-dependence in NK cell response to checkpoint blockade and NK cell responses to primary sarcoma”, says Björn Önfelt, in a news article from the Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology at Karolinska Institutet. “We are already using the method in other projects to show that it could be of clinical or even commercial value, and if we reach clinical implementation or use the platform for drug discovery and development, it may have an immediate impact on treatment and human health”.
The researchers now hope that the system could be implemented in clinical precision medicine to facilitate the selection of individualized treatments and to gain new knowledge about tumor progression and drug response.
Photo of Björn Önfelt: Niklas Sandström.