February 25, 2020

Microperforated membrane supports cancer cells monitoring

3D-printed microperforated membrane
3D-printed microperforated membrane with pore diameter of 12 µm to ensure cancer cell selectivity. Image: Aline Cerf, SmartCatch

Researchers are developing a novel microdevice that is designed to trap cancer-associated cells. Nanoscribe’s 3D Microfabrication technology enables rapid prototyping of the filtration structures with optimized geometry and precisely adjusted pore sizes of about 12 µm. The findings open new avenues for the analysis of circulating tumor cells in research and probably soon in clinical practice.

The methods for cancer diagnosis, therapies and monitoring mainly rely on solid biopsy. These methods depend on invasive surgical procedures used by taking a tissue sample for further examination. To tackle this issue, researchers engineered a novel device that allows liquid biopsy from a simple blood test.

Within this project, scientists from the Laboratory for Analysis and Architecture of Systems (LAAS-CNRS) cooperate with the Cancer University Institute of Toulouse (IUCT) and the Rangueil Hospital. The main objective is to develop a CTC capture technology to isolate circulating tumor cells (CTCs). These cells detach from solid tumors and flow with the bloodstream. With a Nanoscribe 3D printer, the scientists fabricated a complex microperforated membrane structure. Thanks to the extremely precise pores and the 3D design of the microcage tailored to the fluid dynamics, the device can be used to capture and isolate CTCs for in-vitro studies.

To withstand the insertion in clinical routine, the scientists fabricated metallic 3D microdevices that are less fragile than the 3D-printed polymer microcage. Multi-layered electrochemical deposition of Nickel was used to produce the metal-based microdevice. The design is so small that it fits into a conventional medical needle for skin insertion. Thus, the isolation of in blood circulating tumor cells could be validated in vivo.

3D microdevices for novel clinical procedures

Based on 3D microdevices developed within the research project, the French start-up company SmartCatch offers products for liquid biopsy by single-step CTC capture. Their solutions include a portable product that can be integrated into established apheresis machines commonly used in clinics and hospitals for blood separation. The CTC isolation can thus be embedded into clinical procedures for real-time monitoring of CTCs required in early diagnosis, personalized therapies, and cancer treatment follow-up. The company was jointly founded by LAAS-CNRS scientists, and urologists of the IUCT and the Uropole in Montauban.

SmartCatch is raising funds via WiSEED to fill their financial needs for the next 24 months and move forward on their development roadmap. If you would like to vote for their project, follow the link here.

Biomedical applications by 3D Microfabrication

With the design freedom and high precision of Nanoscribe’s 3D printers, complex 3D designs can be fabricated, targeting numerous applications in the biomedical sector. Various scientific publications report on the realization and performance of biomedical 3D microstructures, for example, in retinal tissue engineering, cancer research, cochlear implants and blood-brain barrier model for drug screening. Taking a further step forward in biocompatible 3D microstructures, Nanoscribe recently presented the new IP-Visio printing material. The material is non-cytotoxic, shows a very low autofluorescence and is suitable for the fabrication of high-precision 3D microparts for life science applications.

Read the scientific article about the project in Medical Devices & Sensors: A novel 3D microdevice for the in vivo capture of cancer‐associated cells

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