Validation of a lab-on-chip assay for measuring sorafenib effectiveness on hcc cell proliferation

Emanuele Piccinno, Anna Grazia Monteduro, Francesco Dituri, Silvia Rizzato, Gianluigi Giannelli, Giuseppe Maruccio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a highly lethal cancer, and although a few drugs are available for treatment, therapeutic effectiveness is still unsatisfactory. New drugs are urgently needed for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients. In this context, reliable preclinical assays are of paramount importance to screen the effectiveness of new drugs and, in particular, measure their effects on HCC cell proliferation. However, cell proliferation measurement is a time-consuming and operator-dependent procedure. The aim of this study was to validate an engineered miniaturized on-chip platform for real-time, non-destructive cell proliferation assays and drug screening. The effectiveness of Sorafenib, the first-line drug mainly used for patients with advanced HCC, was tested in parallel, comparing the gold standard 96-well-plate assay and our new lab-on-chip platform. Results from the lab-on-chip are consistent in intra-assay replicates and comparable to the output of standard crystal violet proliferation assays for assessing Sorafenib effectiveness on HCC cell proliferation. The miniaturized platform presents several advantages in terms of lesser reagents consumption, operator time, and costs, as well as overcoming a number of technical and operator-dependent pitfalls. Moreover, the number of cells required is lower, a relevant issue when primary cell cultures are used. In conclusion, the availability of inexpensive on-chip assays can speed up drug development, especially by using patient-derived samples to take into account disease heterogeneity and patient-specific characteristics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13090
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2021


  • Cell proliferation
  • Drug screening
  • Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Lab-on-chip
  • Microfluidics
  • On-chip assays
  • Sorafenib

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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