How do tumors communicate with other organs to cause metastasis?
CHIP-ME aims at understanding how tumors spread by studying the communication between a tumor and other organs. The proposed research will be performed by a multi-disciplinary, public-private consortium bringing together one technical university (University of Twente), one university medical center (UMC Utrecht) and three industrial partners (VyCAP, Fluigent and BEOnChip) with expertise in microfluidics, organoids, organ-on-a-chip technology and single cell analysis.
Cancer, when associated with metastasis, remains a leading cause of death, with about 10 million deaths worldwide in 2018 only. However, how tumors spread remains an enigma, rendering the study and treatment of cancer truly challenging. Furthermore, while much research has focused on the causes of oncogenic transformation and tumor emergence, suitable mechanistic models addressing cancer-cell growth and spreading are still lacking.
CHIP-ME will develop a systemic, modular and versatile multi-organ platform, using microfluidics and vascularized organoids to study how a breast tumor and a metastatic site (bone tissue) interact with each other. CHIP-ME will first grow organ-specific organoids, followed by their vascularization in a microfluidic format to yield organ-specific modules. Next, communication will be established between these organ-specific modules to create a systemic circulation. Finally, cross-organ communication will be examined in terms of secretion of inflammatory substances and cell extravasation into the circulation.
CHIP-ME will deliver an innovative and high-impact platform for multi-scale, multi-organ, systemic and personalized cancer/metastasis models, with the ultimate translational purpose of reducing patient overtreatment. This showcase will establish a novel integrative approach for inter-organ communication research. The proposed multi-organ and systemic approach is translatable into the next generation of organ-on-a-chip models, which can greatly benefit several clinical/industrial applications, e.g., prognostics and therapy efficiency evaluation.