The lymphatic system and lymph nodes (LNs) are an integral part of our adaptive immune system and many tumors exploit lymphatic vessels to spread and colonize downstream LNs. Tumor-LN-oC aims to offer a comprehensive solution for a robust, automated tumor-lymph node-on-chip platform that will connect primary surgically removed human tumors and LN tissue from the same cancer patient. This will allow us to study the interaction of primary tumors with lymph nodes, identify their chemical signature, and offer personalized treatment relying on molecular characterization of lymph node metastasizing cells.
The project will significantly advance the fields of microfluidics, cell biology, cancer biology, physics, and computer programming and software development, by pursuing the following objectives: a) To introduce novel designs and develop robust, automated microfluidic chips optimized for tumor cell and LN culture enabling the study of their crosstalk, b) To integrate Quantum Cascade Laser based mid-IR spectroscopy for specific chemical signatures, c) To molecularly characterize both migrating tumor-derived cells attracted to the LN and the soluble signals driving migration, d) To demonstrate an advanced image analysis and signal processing platform using deep learning algorithms facilitated by a micro-optics module to monitor in real time the cells migration, e) To integrate all Tumor-LN-oC technologies in an automated platform prototype incorporating interfaces compatible with existing laboratory equipment.
The Tumor-LN-oC platform, will be developed at TRL5 and will be validated using real patient samples. Regulatory pathways, standards and requirements compliance will be considered in order to facilitate exploitation and early market entry. The consortium encompasses key – industrial partners and experts in the aforementioned interdisciplinary fields and is expected to have substantial impact in EU’s economy and healthcare.