Tackling the Tumor Ecosystem 1


blood vessels and immune cells around a tumor

Nguyen Huu Tuan, Sarah Shelton, Vivian Vu and Roger Kamm


blood vessels and immune cells around a tumor

Tackling the tumor’s ecosystem: microfluidic vascular systems for cancer immunotherapy study.

Immunotherapy is a promising method for cancer treatment, yet many elements regarding its mechanism of action still remain unknown due to traditional in vitro methods being unrepresentative of what happens in vivo. The Mechanobiology Lab develops a three-dimensional cell culture platform that recapitulates the tumor microenvironment. A breast tumor (red) is surrounded by blood vessels (in green). Immune cells (monocytes in blue and T-cells in white) have been introduced into the blood networks, with many of them remaining in the vessels. However, some immune cells have crossed the blood vessel walls and migrated toward the tumor as a result of the tumor’s molecular signals.

This image is the first step in visualizing the extravasation of immune cells into a tumor. By using image processing software, we are able to quantify the percentage of immune cells perfused that extravasate and migrate into a tumor. The purpose of this image is to aid in our understanding of the mechanisms regulating monocyte and T-cell extravasation, which we can therefore apply when considering treatments needed to tune the tumor microenvironment into becoming anti-tumoral.