Worm-based microfluidic biosensor for real-time assessment of the metastatic status

Jing Zhang, Song Lin Chua (Corresponding Author), Bee Luan Khoo

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Metastasis is a complex process that affects patient treatment and survival. To routinely monitor cancer plasticity and guide treatment strategies, it is highly desired to provide information about metastatic status in real-time. Here, we proposed a worm-based (WB) microfluidic biosensor to rapidly monitor biochemical cues related to metastasis in a well-defined environment. Compared to conventional biomarker-based methods, the WB biosensor allowed high throughput screening under low cost, requiring only visual quantification of outputs; Methods: Cae-norhabditis elegans were placed in the WB biosensor and exposed to samples conditioned with cancer cell clusters. The chemotactic preference of these worms was observed under discontinuous imaging to minimize the impact on physiological activity; Results: A chemotaxis index (CI) was defined to standardize the quantitative assessment from the WB biosensor, where moderate (3.24–6.5) and high (>6.5) CI levels reflected increased metastasis risk and presence of metastasis, respectively. We demonstrated that the secreted metabolite glutamate was a chemorepellent, and larger clusters associated with increased metastatic potential also enhanced CI levels; Conclusions: Overall, this study provided a proof of concept for the WB biosensors in assessing metastasis status, with the potential to evaluate patient-derived cancer clusters for routine management.

Original languageEnglish
Article number873
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2021


  • Disease monitoring
  • Label-free
  • Metastasis
  • Preclinical models
  • Worm-based biosensor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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