Blood vessel-on-a-chips show anti-cancer drug effects in human cells

Researchers at the Institute of Industrial Science (IIS), the University of Tokyo, CNRS and INSERM, report a new organ-on-a-chip technology for the study of blood vessel formation and drugs targeting this event. The technology recreates a human blood vessel and shows how new capillaries grow from a single vessel (parent vessel) in response to proper biochemical signaling cues. The technology can further be used to develop drugs targeting this growth as a therapeutic approach to treat cancer and blood-vessel-related diseases. The study can be read in EBioMedicine.

Angiogenesis describes a specific process of blood vessel formation from pre-existing blood vessels. Dr. Yukiko Matsunaga, lecturer at the IIS, the University of Tokyo, has been working in the SMMIL-E project, a joint French-Japanese project against cancer (involving the CNRS, COL, Universite de Lille, the University of Tokyo), by using tissue engineering and organ-on-a-chip technology to study various biological phenomena including angiogenesis. Her new technology provides a simple setting to study angiogenesis other effects such as the dynamics of blood vessel permeability.

Vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGF) are the primary proteins responsible for angiogenesis. They signal to the parental vessel to initiate sprouting and the direction toward which the new capillaries must grow.

"The biochemistry of sprouting angiogenesis is well understood. VEGF leads endothelial cells to express DLL4, which activates NOTCH signaling. What is lacking is a good system to study drugs that are effective on angiogenesis," said Matsunaga.

Indeed, while necessary for organ survival, angiogenesis also sustains diseases like cancer. Several anti-cancer drugs such as sorafenib and sunitinib are effective in large part because of their anti-angiogenic effects.

In the new system, which was designed by Dr. Joris Pauty, a scientist in the Matsunaga laboratory, a single human blood vessel is fabricated into a collagen gel scaffold on a chip. ?, indicating the initiation of new blood vessels. Subsequent experiments performed with the support of a member of the SMMIL-E project, Dr. Fabrice Soncin (INSERM, France) confirmed that VEGF activated NOTCH signaling through DLL4 just as in the human body. Adding either sorafenib or sunitinib inhibited the sprouting, but only sorafenib made the vessels highly permeable, which is a non-physiological condition. That both drugs prevented new vessel growth but with different effects on blood vessel permeability may explain why the two work differently in cancer treatment.

Since many diseases like cancer and diabetic retinopathy induce new vessels for their progression, Matsunaga noted that the chips could be used for even more advanced studies for drug effects on angiogenesis and cancer or diabetes.

"We can also use cancer cells into the chip to test their combined effects with the drugs on angiogenesis."

Joris Pauty, Ryo Usuba, Irene Gayi Cheng, Louise Hespel, Haruko Takahashi, Keisuke Kato, Masayoshi Kobayashi, Hiroyuki Nakajima, Eujin Lee, Florian Yger, Fabrice Soncin, Yukiko T. Matsunaga.
A Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor-Dependent Sprouting Angiogenesis Assay Based on an In Vitro Human Blood Vessel Model for the Study of Anti-Angiogenic Drugs.
EBioMedicine, Volume 27, 225 - 236. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2017.12.014.

Most Popular Now

Cancer cells are quick-change artists adapting to …

Until now, researchers have assumed that the growth of solid tumors originates from cancer stem cells characterized by specific surface markers, which develop in a fixed...

Nucala (mepolizumab) gains FDA approval for two ne…

GlaxoSmithKline (LSE/NYSE: GSK) announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two new methods for administering Nucala (mepolizumab), an autoinjec...

Cannabis use among older adults rising rapidly

Cannabis use among older adults is growing faster than any other age group but many report barriers to getting medical marijuana, a lack of communication with their docto...

Jeff Settleman, Ph.D., joins Pfizer to lead Oncolo…

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) announced that Jeff Settleman, Ph.D., will join the company as Senior Vice President and Group Head of Oncology Research & Development, leading al...

Cleveland researchers test novel gene therapy for …

A novel gene therapy clinical trial at University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center and the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center is showing promising results, garnering funding...

Full data from CAROLINA® outcome trial support lon…

Boehringer Ingelheim and Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE: LLY) announced full data from the CAROLINA® trial demonstrating that Trajenta® (linagliptin) did not increase cardio...

Merck pioneers new effort to see MS from the insid…

Merck, a leading science and technology company, joins the global multiple sclerosis (MS) community in recognition of World MS Day, an initiative created by the Multiple ...

Bristol-Myers Squibb announces post-closing leader…

Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (NYSE:BMY) today announced the future leadership team of the combined company effective upon completion of the company’s pending merger with ...

Novartis Kisqali significantly extends life in wom…

Novartis announced statistically significant overall survival (OS) results for Kisqali in combination with endocrine therapy[1]. The Phase 3 MONALEESA-7 trial evaluated K...

Amgen joins with community oncology networks for n…

Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN), along with leading community oncology networks, today announced the launch of Amgen Community Oncology Research Collaborators (ACORC), a new initiat...

Bayer receives U.S. FDA breakthrough therapy desig…

Bayer announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation for copanlisib (Aliqopa™) for the treatment of adult patie...

Prescription drug costs steadily soar, yet price t…

After reviewing tens of millions of insurance claims for the country’s 49 most popular brand-name prescription drugs, a team from Scripps Research Translational Institute...