Cancer is still one of the leading causes of death, despite large investments in cancer research. Currently, the pharmaceutical industry is undergoing a transition towards personalized medicine, where drugs are directed against biological defects underlying the tumor. However, to be able to discover and develop drugs that specifically target the pathophysiology of an individual patient, we need more knowledge about the molecular and cellular mechanisms of tumor development and metastasis, and about the interaction between cancer cells and the body’s immune system. This requires human model systems of cancer.


Program coordinators

Pouyan Boukany
TU Delft

Upcoming meeting

  • 7 March (10-16h, TU Delft)
  • 11 September (10-16h, ErasmusMC)

Previous meetings

  • 7 September 2023 (RUG)
  • 31 January 2023, Online (10-13h)
  • 14 June 2022
  • 14 June 2021, Online (13-16h)
  • 15 December 2020, Online (13-16h)
  • 3 March 2020, Rotterdam (host TU Eindhoven)
  • 10 July 2019, Amsterdam (host VUmc)
  • 27 March 2019, Proposal Prep Meeting, Rotterdam (host Erasmus MC)
  • 21 December 2018, Leiden (host LACDR)

Interdisciplinary research

Cancer on Chip is an interdisciplinary program to which each partner contributes based on its own ongoing research and clinical interest. The potential for successful collaboration lies in the overlap of complementary knowledge and technology across the consortium.

Modeling of tumors

As animal models and conventional cell culture models based on cell lines in dishes do not truly reflect cancer in the human body and have limited predictive value for drug response, hDMT is pioneering the modeling of tumors on microfluidic chips that are based on primary cancer tissue and will ultimately incorporate the human immune response. The resulting organ-on-chip type human cancer models can be used for research of cancer growth and metastasis, drug target discovery (including for immunotherapy), testing drug compounds, and for associated companion diagnostics.

Cancer and the immune system

hDMT’s immunocompetent cancer-on-chip program is characterized by a step-by-step approach, going from relatively simple designs, using standard cancer cell lines, towards more complex, organoid and stem cell based tissue structures that can even mimic the immune response and capture the human and cancer genome. The basic human cancer-on-chip model envisioned is a microfluidic device containing two hollow microchannels and two continuously perfused micrometer-sized chambers, separated by a microporous membrane.


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Valentina Palacio-Castañeda, Lucas Kooijman, Bastien Venzac, Wouter Verdurmen and Séverine Le Gac (2020) Metabolic Switching of Tumor Cells under Hypoxic Conditions in a Tumor-on-a-chip Model, Micromachines, 11, 382.

Eslami Amirabadi H, Tuerlings M, Hollestelle A, SahebAli S, Luttge R, van Donkelaar CC, Martens JWM, den Toonder JMJ. Characterizing the invasion of different breast cancer cell lines with distinct E-cadherin status in 3D using a microfluidic system. Biomed Microdevices. 2019 Nov 23;21(4):101.

Bonzanni, N., Garg, A., Feenstra, K.A., Schütte, J., Kinston, S., Miranda-Saavedra, D., Heringa, J., Xenarios, I., Göttgens, B. Hard-wired heterogeneity in blood stem cells revealed using a dynamic regulatory network model. Bioinformatics. 2013 Jul 1;29(13):i80-8.

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