The integration of tissue engineering strategies with microfluidic technologies has enabled the design of in vitro microfluidic culture models that better adapt to morphological changes in tissue structure and function over time. These biomimetic microfluidic scaffolds accurately mimic native 3D microenvironments, as well as permit precise and simultaneous control of chemical gradients, hydrodynamic stresses, and cellular niches within the system. The recent application of microfluidic in vitro culture models to cancer research offers enormous potential to aid in the development of improved therapeutic strategies by supporting the investigation of tumor angiogenesis and metastasis under physiologically relevant flow conditions. The intrinsic material properties and fluid mechanics of microfluidic culture models enable high-throughput anti-cancer drug screening, permit well-defined and controllable input parameters to monitor tumor cell response to various hydrodynamic conditions or treatment modalities, as well as provide a platform for elucidating fundamental mechanisms of tumor physiology. This review highlights recent developments and future applications of microfluidic culture models to study tumor progression and therapeutic targeting under conditions of hydrodynamic stress relevant to the complex tumor microenvironment. Biotechnol. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2013; 110: 2063–2072. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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