Despite improvements in screening, treatment and survival, cancer still causes one in four deaths in the United States. Immunotherapy, and particularly immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs), show great promise, but have yet to realize their full potential due to unpredictable and limited response rates.
Drawing on our PREDICT96 technology, Draper developed a microfluidic platform that enables researchers to explore the efficacy of potential therapies on actual human tumors before preclinical or human clinical trial phases.
Known as Ex Vivo Immuno-oncology Dynamic Environment for Tumor Biopsies (PREDICT-Ion), our technology maintains tumor fragment viability outside of the human body for periods of weeks to months.
PREDICT-Ion allows researchers to observe interactions between circulating blood cells, immune cells and tumor tissues to study how ICI and cell therapies enable the immune system to attack specific types of cancer.
Enabling Predictive Modeling and Targeted Mechanistic Testing
For the vast majority of cancer drugs, existing preclinical testing methods cannot predict safety or efficacy. Nor does it permit targeted mechanistic studies in which real-time tumor progression can be monitored and assayed at the cellular level in a granular manner.
PREDICT-Ion addresses these limitations by replicating the human body’s response to a drug. Housing viable tumor fragments in a 3D microenvironment, the platform provides precision-controlled flow to enable tumor perfusion and controlled immune cell trafficking through microfluidic channels. Flow can be one-pass to pinpoint acute therapy-tumor effects or recirculating to focus on chronic or long-lasting therapies.
Parallel Testing, Precise Control and Longer Cell Viability
PREDICT-Ion supports parallel testing of emerging cancer therapeutics, including ICIs and combination compound and cell therapies. Up to 96 tumor fragments can be contained in independent and parallel fluidic paths. Each microenvironment can support independent experimental conditions in dynamic studies—all in a standardized 384-well plate footprint.
The PREDICT-Ion platform enables precise control over the concentration of immune cells delivered to the tumor tissues. With real-time high-resolution imaging and powerful machine-learning algorithms, PREDICT-Ion maps and quantifies tumor response data at the cellular level—including local tumor killing and penetration of immune cells into the tumor—without disrupting the process.
Studies demonstrate that PREDICT-Ion keeps tumors highly viable at least five times more effectively than traditional static histocultures, in which tissues degrade within days.
Supporting Personalized Therapeutics and Precision Medicine
Draper’s PREDICT-Ion system is also an effective and powerful tool for patient-specific personalized therapeutics and precision medicine. The precision and scalability of the microfluidic design enable testing of many therapeutic combinations simultaneously, and the system accommodates robust culture of diverse donor sources, so patients can begin the right treatment right away.