Advanced 3D in vitro models based on magnetically-driven docking of modular microscaffolds


This project is focused on the design, the production, the characterization, and the proposal for future commercialization of 3D modular co-culture systems, specifically designed to recapitulate the physio-pathological microenvironment of brain tumor. The key technology at the base of the proposed project is the design of magnetic microscaffolds and their fabrication through two-photon polymerization (2pp), a disruptive mesoscale manufacturing technique that enables low-cost obtainment of microstructures with nanometric resolution, characterized by unprecedented levels of accuracy and reproducibility. A microtubular structure scaffolding endothelial cells and connected to a fluidic system will be exploited to mimic the blood-brain barrier: this biohybrid device will be the base for the assembly of ferromagnetic “microcages” hosting glioblastoma cells, and will be provided with docking systems for superparamagnetic “microcages” carrying undifferentiated and differentiated neuronal progenitor cells. This approach represents a disruptive innovation with respect to other 3D models available in the literature, as it will allow a faithful recapitulation of the complex glioblastoma microenvironment through a platform that can be very easily handled in any laboratory. High-throughput screenings of brain drugs and in vitro testing of the efficacy of different anticancer therapies are envisaged upon successful accomplishment of the project, leading to a pioneering generation of flexible multi-cellular platforms easily adaptable to the mimicry of different pathological conditions.

SEM image of the fabricated microfluidic BBB

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