Researchers at University of Michigan have developed a device they call a 3D jet writer, which can print high-resolution polymer microtissues on a small scale, with appropriate pore sizes to allow cancer cell infiltration. The researchers hope that the printed tissues will allow them to study cancer metastasis and conduct drug screens to find new compounds that prevent metastasis.
Numerous research groups have experimented with 3D printing to produce tissue-mimetic materials, with a view to studying cancer growth and metastasis. However, many of these tissue-mimetic materials have been limited, in part because they don’t have the correct porosity to encourage sufficient cancer cell growth and survival.
To produce a resolution much higher than a 3D printer can make, the research team has developed a new technique, which they call 3D writing. The method involves a device called a 3D jet writer, which can create high-resolution polymer structures, with appropriate pore sizes to encourage cancer cells to enter and grow.
The technique is a modified version of electrospinning, where researchers pass a polymer solution through a charged syringe to create fibrous structures. In this case, the fibrous structure forms a scaffold for cancers cells to grow in.
The researchers tested how amenable the polymer tissues were to encouraging cancer cell growth by implanting them in mice. The implants drew cancer cells to areas where they would not normally grow, confirming that the polymer material provides an attractive environment for the cells.
The team hopes that the polymer materials will provide a platform where they can test new anti-cancer drug compounds, to find which molecules are most effective.
Study in journal Advanced Materials: 3D Jet Writing: Functional Microtissues Based on Tessellated Scaffold Architectures…
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