In the study, researchers developed human orthotopic lung cancer models using two lung chips.

Cancer researchers have come to understand that generating human tumors in mice by injecting cancer cell lines under the skin does not recapitulate how tumors normally emerge and spread to specific organs in the human body, nor how they respond to anti-cancer drugs. So, they turned to injecting tumor cells at the organ sites where they originated from in humans, so-called ‘orthotopic’ sites.

Orthotopic tumors, such as those created by injecting breast cancers into the mammary fat pads of mice, exhibit growth and metastatic behaviors more like those seen in patients, however, these organ environments are still not human. It is also not possible to visualize how tumor cells grow, move and respond to therapeutics in these orthotopic animal models, which restricts our ability to understand how different organ microenvironments influence tumor behavior and thereby develop better drugs.