Cell-based Arrays for Screening Combination Drug Efficacy for Personalized Cancer Therapy

Technology #14780

Arrays Require Just a Small Number of Rare Cells to Determine Best Combination of Drugs for Patient Treatment

These cell-based arrays use a small sampling of cells to help isolate and identify a patient’s sensitivity to chemotherapeutic drugs in vitro, potentially personalizing treatment of cancer. The cancer stem cell hypothesis postulates that a minute fraction of cells within a tumor, termed cancer stem cells, possess the tumor-initiating capacity that propels tumor growth. Targeting tumor-initiating cells could be a viable clinical strategy to combating cancer, but these cells are extremely rare, necessitating new methods for rapid and robust screening. Researchers at the University of Florida have developed a miniaturized platform to investigate chemosensitivity of patient-derived tumor-initiating cells using limited cell numbers, potentially personalizing treatment of cancer. These cell-based arrays can predict the success of various combination treatments from one cancer patient to the next using just a small number of cells, thus enabling clinical adoption of personalized approaches to cancer.


Arrays to screen drug efficacy on rare cell populations, such as patient-derived colon cancer stem cells


  • Requires fewer cells than alternative methods, making it less expensive
  • Fewer reagents increase throughput and productivity, increasing the diagnostic capacity
  • Can be implemented with various biological or pharmaceutical agents of interest, making it useful for a variety of screening purposes
  • Doesn’t require specialized equipment, making it easy to adopt into clinical and academic laboratories


Cancer stem cells with the greatest tumor-initiating and metastatic potential are exceptionally rare and difficult to isolate. The various embodiments of the arrays in this platform can perform chemosensitivity screens on patient-derived colon cancer stem cells using just a limited number of cells. University of Florida researchers found the results of using these structures and arrays indicate that colon cancer stem cells vary considerably in their response to drugs; this chemosensitivity screening on patient-derived cells can lead to valuable information regarding chemotherapy decisions. In addition to facilitating personalized medicine for treating colon cancer, any cancer stem cell or rare cellular population in which identifying responsiveness to drug combinations is paramount can adopt the same approach.