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

Project description

Innovative 3D model of the brain tumour microenvironment

The EU-funded MagDock project aims to develop 3D modular co-culture systems for the recapitulation of the physiological microenvironment in brain tumours. The project innovation involves the design and fabrication of magnetic microscaffolds using the two-photon polymerisation technique. Microscaffolds seeded with endothelial cells and connected to a fluidic system will recreate the blood–brain barrier. This biohybrid system will serve as the base for ferromagnetic microcages of glioblastoma cells and superparamagnetic microcages of neuronal progenitor cells. The innovative 3D model will faithfully recapitulate the real glioblastoma microenvironment and provide the platform for high-throughput screenings of drug candidates and in vitro testing of different anticancer therapies.


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.


Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 150 000,00
16163 Genova

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Nord-Ovest Liguria Genova
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
No data

Beneficiaries (1)