PM.20.055 – iChip: next generation models for cancer immunotherapy

Route: Personalised medicine: the individual at the centre

Cluster question: 085 Every tumour is different, so how can we come to understand cancer well enough to develop a treatment for each and every type?

Immunotherapy is gaining ground in clinical oncology, and it is increasingly recognized that the surroundings of the tumor, i.e. the tumor micro-environment (TME), play a crucial role in determining the success rate of this treatment. The interaction between tumor cells and the TME is affected by its cellular components, metabolism, blood supply and physical barriers and cannot be investigated to its full extent in current in vitro or mouse models. Our aim is therefore to develop highly physiological, TME-reconstituted, 3D organotypic human melanoma- and breast cancer-on-a-chip (CoC) models. Melanoma is highly responsive to immunotherapy, while breast cancer represents a heterogeneous tumor type which responds much less favorably to current immune therapies. These two models allow us to investigate how key components of the TME affect these different therapeutic responses. We have built a consortium covering experts in the field of cancer biology, onco-immunology, metabolism, physical propertiestissue mechanics, matrix remodeling and imaging, microfluidics and fabrication. We expect that the highly representative human CoC models developed here will provide innovative predictive methods which greatly facilitate the delineation of molecular and cellular processes underlying failure of immunotherapy, and consequently enable the study into drugs blocking the diverse modes of immune suppression.


Breast cancer, extracellular matrix, immune micro-environment, melanoma, microfluidics


Organisation Erasmus MC Cancer Institute, Rotterdam, the Netherlands (EMC)
Name Prof. dr. J.W.M. (John) Martens