The effects of biofilms on tumor progression in a 3D cancer-biofilm microfluidic model

Yanlin Deng, Sylvia Yang Liu, Song Lin Chua (Corresponding Author), Bee Luan Khoo

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Components within the tumor microenvironment, such as intratumoral bacteria (IB; within tumors), affect tumor progression. However, current experimental models have not explored the effects of extratumoral bacteria (EB; outside tumors) on cancer progression. Here, we developed a microfluidic platform to analyze the influence of bacterial distribution on bladder cancer progression under defined conditions, using uropathogenic Escherichia coli. This was achieved by establishing coating (CT) and colonizing (CL) models to simulate the different invasion and colonization modes of IB and EB in tumor tissues. We demonstrated that both EB and IB induced closer cell-cell contacts within the tumor cluster, but cancer cell viability was reduced only in the presence of IB. Interestingly, cancer stem cell counts increased significantly in the presence of EB. These outcomes were due to the formation of extracellular DNA-based biofilms by EB. Triple therapy of DNase (anti-biofilm agent), ciprofloxacin (antibiotic), and doxorubicin (anti-cancer drug) could effectively eradicate biofilms and tumors simultaneously. Our preclinical proof-of-concept provides insights on how bacteria can influence tumor progression and facilitate future research on anti-biofilm cancer management therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113113
JournalBiosensors and Bioelectronics
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2021


  • Antibacterial agents
  • Biofilms
  • Combinatorial therapy
  • Drug screening
  • Microfluidic tumor models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Electrochemistry


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