Correlation of drug-induced apoptosis assay results with oncologist treatment decisions and patient response and survival




An observational prospective nonblinded clinical trial was performed to determine the effect of a drug-induced apoptosis assay results on treatments planned by oncologists.


Purified cancer cells from patient biopsies were placed into the MiCK (Microculture Kinetic) assay, a short-term culture, which determined the effects of single drugs or combinations of drugs on tumor cell apoptosis. An oncologist received the assay results before finalizing the treatment plan. Use of the MiCK assay was evaluated and correlated with patient outcomes.


Forty-four patients with successful MiCK assays from breast cancer (n = 16), nonsmall cell lung cancer (n = 6), non-Hodgkin lymphoma (n = 4), and others were evaluated. Four patients received adjuvant chemotherapy after MiCK, and 40 received palliative chemotherapy with a median line of therapy of 2. Oncologists used the MiCK assay to determine chemotherapy (users) in 28 (64%) and did not (nonusers) in 16 patients (36%). In users receiving palliative chemotherapy, complete plus partial response rate was 44%, compared with 6.7% in nonusers (P < .02). The median overall survival was 10.1 months in users versus 4.1 months in nonusers (P = .02). Relapse-free interval was 8.6 months in users versus 4.0 months in nonusers (P < .01).


MiCK assay results are frequently used by oncologists. Outcomes appear to be statistically superior when oncologists use chemotherapy based on MiCK assay results compared with when they do not use the assay results. When available to oncologists, MiCK assay results help to determine patient treatment plans. Cancer 2012. © 2012 American Cancer Society.