Mimicking and surpassing the xenograft model with cancer-on-chip technology

Job Komen*, Sanne M. van Neerven, Albert van den Berg, Louis Vermeulen, Andries D. van der Meer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
53 Downloads (Pure)


Organs-on-chips are in vitro models in which human tissues are cultured in microfluidic compartments with a controlled, dynamic micro-environment. Specific organs-on-chips are being developed to mimic human tumors, but the validation of such ‘cancer-on-chip’ models for use in drug development is hampered by the complexity and variability of human tumors. An important step towards validation of cancer-on-chip technology could be to first mimic cancer xenograft models, which share multiple characteristics with human cancers but are significantly less complex. Here we review the relevant biological characteristics of a xenograft tumor and show that organ-on-chip technology is capable of mimicking many of these aspects. Actual comparisons between on-chip tumor growth and xenografts are promising but also demonstrate that further development and empirical validation is still needed. Validation of cancer-on-chip models to xenografts would not only represent an important milestone towards acceptance of cancer-on-chip technology, but could also improve drug discovery, personalized cancer medicine, and reduce animal testing.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103303
Early online date25 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • Microfluidics
  • Xenograft
  • Cancer-on-chip
  • Cancer
  • Organ-on-chip


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