Mohsen Akbari


2 Tumor Cell Detection, Isolation and Monitoring Using Bi-Layer Magnetic Microfluidic Chip

Authors: Amir Seyfoori, Ehsan Samiei, Mohsen Akbari


The use of microtechnology for detection and high yield isolation of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) has shown enormous promise as an indication of clinical metastasis prognosis and cancer treatment monitoring. The Immunomagnetic assay has been also coupled to microtechnology to improve the selectivity and efficiency of the current methods of cancer biomarker isolation. In this way, generation and configuration of the local high gradient magnetic field play essential roles in such assay. Additionally, considering the intrinsic heterogeneity of cancer cells, real-time analysis of isolated cells is necessary to characterize their responses to therapy. Totally, on-chip isolation and monitoring of the specific tumor cells is considered as a pressing need in the way of modified cancer therapy. To address these challenges, we have developed a bi-layer magnetic-based microfluidic chip for enhanced CTC detection and capturing. Micromagnet arrays at the bottom layer of the chip were fabricated using a new method of magnetic nanoparticle paste deposition so that they were arranged at the center of the chain microchannel with the lowest fluid velocity zone. Breast cancer cells labelled with EPCAM-conjugated smart microgels were immobilized on the tip of the micromagnets with greater localized magnetic field and stronger cell-micromagnet interaction. Considering different magnetic nano-powder usage (MnFe2O4 & gamma-Fe2O3) and micromagnet shapes (ellipsoidal & arrow), the capture efficiency of the systems was adjusted while the higher CTC capture efficiency was acquired for MnFe2O4 arrow micromagnet as around 95.5%. As a proof of concept of on-chip tumor cell monitoring, magnetic smart microgels made of thermo-responsive poly N-isopropylacrylamide-co-acrylic acid (PNIPAM-AA) composition were used for both purposes of targeted cell capturing as well as cell monitoring using antibody conjugation and fluorescent dye loading at the same time. In this regard, magnetic microgels were successfully used as cell tracker after isolation process so that by raising the temperature up to 37⁰ C, they released the contained dye and stained the targeted cell just after capturing. This microfluidic device was able to provide a platform for detection, isolation and efficient real-time analysis of specific CTCs in the liquid biopsy of breast cancer patients.

Keywords: Microfluidic, Circulating Tumor Cells, Immunomagnetic, Cell isolation

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1 Mathematical Modeling of Avascular Tumor Growth and Invasion

Authors: Ben Nadler, Mohsen Akbari, Meitham Amereh


Cancer has been recognized as one of the most challenging problems in biology and medicine. Aggressive tumors are a lethal type of cancers characterized by high genomic instability, rapid progression, invasiveness, and therapeutic resistance. Their behavior involves complicated molecular biology and consequential dynamics. Although tremendous effort has been devoted to developing therapeutic approaches, there is still a huge need for new insights into the dark aspects of tumors. As one of the key requirements in better understanding the complex behavior of tumors, mathematical modeling and continuum physics, in particular, play a pivotal role. Mathematical modeling can provide a quantitative prediction on biological processes and help interpret complicated physiological interactions in tumors microenvironment. The pathophysiology of aggressive tumors is strongly affected by the extracellular cues such as stresses produced by mechanical forces between the tumor and the host tissue. During the tumor progression, the growing mass displaces the surrounding extracellular matrix (ECM), and due to the level of tissue stiffness, stress accumulates inside the tumor. The produced stress can influence the tumor by breaking adherent junctions. During this process, the tumor stops the rapid proliferation and begins to remodel its shape to preserve the homeostatic equilibrium state. To reach this, the tumor, in turn, upregulates epithelial to mesenchymal transit-inducing transcription factors (EMT-TFs). These EMT-TFs are involved in various signaling cascades, which are often associated with tumor invasiveness and malignancy. In this work, we modeled the tumor as a growing hyperplastic mass and investigated the effects of mechanical stress from surrounding ECM on tumor invasion. The invasion is modeled as volume-preserving inelastic evolution. In this framework, principal balance laws are considered for tumor mass, linear momentum, and diffusion of nutrients. Also, mechanical interactions between the tumor and ECM is modeled using Ciarlet constitutive strain energy function, and dissipation inequality is utilized to model the volumetric growth rate. System parameters, such as rate of nutrient uptake and cell proliferation, are obtained experimentally. To validate the model, human Glioblastoma multiforme (hGBM) tumor spheroids were incorporated inside Matrigel/Alginate composite hydrogel and was injected into a microfluidic chip to mimic the tumor’s natural microenvironment. The invasion structure was analyzed by imaging the spheroid over time. Also, the expression of transcriptional factors involved in invasion was measured by immune-staining the tumor. The volumetric growth, stress distribution, and inelastic evolution of tumors were predicted by the model. Results showed that the level of invasion is in direct correlation with the level of predicted stress within the tumor. Moreover, the invasion length measured by fluorescent imaging was shown to be related to the inelastic evolution of tumors obtained by the model.

Keywords: Cancer, Mathematical Modeling, microfluidic chip, invasion, tumor spheroids

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