Nanotheranostics 2021; 5(1):73-89. doi:10.7150/ntno.49614


Multifunctional microfluidic chip for cancer diagnosis and treatment

Qiao-ru Guo1#, Ling-ling Zhang1#, Ji-fang Liu1#, Zhen Li2, Jia-jun Li1, Wen-min Zhou1, Hui Wang3, Jing-quan Li4, Da-yu Liu5✉, Xi-yong Yu1✉, Jian-ye Zhang1,4✉

1. Key Laboratory of Molecular Target & Clinical Pharmacology and the State Key Laboratory of Respiratory Disease, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences & the Fifth Affiliated Hospital, Guangzhou Medical University, Guangzhou, P.R.China.
2. Department of Gastroenterology, Qilu Hospital, Cheeloo College of Medicine, Shandong University, Jinan, P.R.China.
3. Guangzhou Institute of Pediatrics/Guangzhou Women and Children's Medical Center, Guangzhou Medical University, Guangzhou, P.R.China.
4. The First Affiliated Hospital, Hainan Medical University, Haikou, P.R.China.
5. Department of Laboratory Medicine, Guangzhou First People's Hospital, School of Medicine, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, P.R.China.
#These authors contributed equally to this work.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( See for full terms and conditions.
Guo Qr, Zhang Ll, Liu Jf, Li Z, Li Jj, Zhou Wm, Wang H, Li Jq, Liu Dy, Yu Xy, Zhang Jy. Multifunctional microfluidic chip for cancer diagnosis and treatment. Nanotheranostics 2021; 5(1):73-89. doi:10.7150/ntno.49614. Available from

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Microfluidic chip is not a chip in the traditional sense. It is technologies that control fluids at the micro level. As a burgeoning biochip, microfluidic chips integrate multiple disciplines, including physiology, pathology, cell biology, biophysics, engineering mechanics, mechanical design, materials science, and so on. The application of microfluidic chip has shown tremendous promise in the field of cancer therapy in the past three decades. Various types of cell and tissue cultures, including 2D cell culture, 3D cell culture and tissue organoid culture could be performed on microfluidic chips. Patient-derived cancer cells and tissues can be cultured on microfluidic chips in a visible, controllable, and high-throughput manner, which greatly advances the process of personalized medicine. Moreover, the functionality of microfluidic chip is greatly expanding due to the customizable nature. In this review, we introduce its application in developing cancer preclinical models, detecting cancer biomarkers, screening anti-cancer drugs, exploring tumor heterogeneity and producing nano-drugs. We highlight the functions and recent development of microfluidic chip to provide references for advancing cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Keywords: Microfluidic chip, Cancer, Preclinical model, Drug screening, Biomarker, Nanoparticle