The advanced-stage head and neck cancer (HNC) patients respond poorly to platinum-based treatments. Thus, a reliable pretreatment method for evaluating platinum treatment response would improve therapeutic efficiency and outcomes. This study describes a novel strategy to predict clinical drug responses in HNC patients by using eSelect, a lab-developed biomimetic cell culture system, which enables us to perform ex vivo expansion and drug sensitivity profiling of circulating tumor cells (CTCs). Forty liquid biopsies were collected from HNC patients, and the CTCs were expanded ex vivo using the eSelect system within four weeks. Immunofluorescence staining confirmed that the CTC-derived organoids were positive for EpCAM and negative for CD45. Two illustrative cases present the potential of this strategy for evaluating treatment response. The statistical analysis confirmed that drug sensitivity in CTC-derived organoids was associated with a clinical response. The multivariant logistic regression model predicted that the treatment accuracy of chemotherapy responses achieved 93.75%, and the area under the curves (AUCs) of prediction models was 0.8841 in the whole dataset and 0.9167 in cisplatin specific dataset. In summary, cisplatin sensitivity profiles of patient-derived CTCs expanded ex vivo correlate with a clinical response to cisplatin treatment, and this can potentially underpin predictive assays to guide HNC treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6076
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2 2021


  • Circulating tumor cells
  • Drug sensitivity
  • Ex vivo expansion
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Response to therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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