Plasmonic Functional Assay Platform Determines the Therapeutic Profile of Cancer Cells

Cetin A. E., Topkaya S. N., Yazici Z. A., Yalcin-Ozuysal O.

ACS Sensors, vol.8, no.7, pp.2543-2555, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 8 Issue: 7
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1021/acssensors.3c00208
  • Journal Name: ACS Sensors
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Chemical Abstracts Core, Compendex, EMBASE, INSPEC, MEDLINE
  • Page Numbers: pp.2543-2555
  • Keywords: cell growth, diffraction field imaging, functional assays, nanohole arrays, nanotechnology, plasmonics
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Functional assay platforms could identify the biophysical properties of cells and their therapeutic response to drug treatments. Despite their strong ability to assess cellular pathways, functional assays require large tissue samples, long-term cell culture, and bulk measurements. Even though such a drawback is still valid, these limitations did not hinder the interest in these platforms for their capacity to reveal drug susceptibility. Some of the limitations could be overcome with single-cell functional assays by identifying subpopulations using small sample volumes. Along this direction, in this article, we developed a high-throughput plasmonic functional assay platform to identify the growth profile of cells and their therapeutic profile under therapies using mass and growth rate statistics of individual cells. Our technology could determine populations’ growth profiles using the growth rate data of multiple single cells of the same population. Evaluating spectral variations based on the plasmonic diffraction field intensity images in real time, we could simultaneously monitor the mass change for the cells within the field of view of a camera with the capacity of > ∼500 cells/h scanning rate. Our technology could determine the therapeutic profile of cells under cancer drugs within few hours, while the classical techniques require days to show reduction in viability due to antitumor effects. The platform could reveal the heterogeneity within the therapeutic profile of populations and determine subpopulations showing resistance to drug therapies. As a proof-of-principle demonstration, we studied the growth profile of MCF-7 cells and their therapeutic behavior to standard-of-care drugs that have antitumor effects as shown in the literature, including difluoromethylornithine (DFMO), 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), paclitaxel (PTX), and doxorubicin (Dox). We successfully demonstrated the resistant behavior of an MCF-7 variant that could survive in the presence of DFMO. More importantly, we could precisely identify synergic and antagonistic effects of drug combinations based on the order of use in cancer therapy. Rapidly assessing the therapeutic profile of cancer cells, our plasmonic functional assay platform could be used to reveal personalized drug therapies for cancer patients.