An ATP luminescence assay (TCA 100) was used to measure chemotherapeutic drug sensitivity and resistance of dissociated tumor cells cultured for 6 days in serum-free medium and 96-well polypropylene microplates. Studies were performed with surgical, needle biopsy, pleural, or ascitic fluid specimens using 10,000–20,000 cells/well. ATP measurements were used to determine tumor growth inhibition. Single agent and drug combinations were evaluated using the area under the curve and 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) results for a series of test drug concentrations. The ATP luminometry method had high sensitivity, linearity, and precision for measuring the activity of single agents and drug combinations. Assay reproducibility was high with intraassay and interassay coefficients of variation of 10–15% for percentage of tumor growth inhibition, 5–10% for area under curve, and 15–20% for IC50 results. Good correlation (r = 0.93) between the area under the curve, and IC50 results was observed. Cytological studies with 124 specimens demonstrated selective growth of malignant cells in the serum-free culture system. Studies with malignant and benign specimens also showed selective growth of malignant cells in the serum-free medium used for assay. The assay had a success rate of 87% based on criteria for specimen histopathology, magnitude of cell growth, and dose-response drug activity. Cisplatin results for ovarian carcinoma are presented for 81 specimens from 70 untreated patients and 33 specimens from 30 refractory patients. A model for interpretation of these results based on the correlation of clinical response with the area under the curve and IC50 results indicates that the assay has >90% accuracy for cisplatin resistance of ovarian carcinoma. Additional studies are in progress to evaluate the clinical efficacy of this assay.


This work was supported in part by BATLE LE (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) and DCS Innovative Diagnostik Systeme (Hamburg, Germany).

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