Cancer is the largest cause of mortality worldwide, with incidence ever rising. Renal cell carcinoma is one of the life style associated cancers on the rise, like with all cancers our understanding of the mechanism of metastasis is poorly understood. This knowledge would enable us to invent ways to improve our treatment of cancers, using more targeted therapeutics and potentially designing ways to divert the mechanism from happening. The fusion of life sciences with microfluidics has brought about 'organ-on chip' a cell culturing strategy which enables the recapitulation of physiological conditions of tissues. Moreover this technique has shown promise in mimicking the tumour microenvironment in an in vitro model that has greater metabolical relevance and specificity than animal modes of in vivo modelling. The lengthy and labour-intensive fabrication process of this technology is a constraint which has hindered more broad adoption of this technology for high throughput screening.
This project aims shall utilise a custom-adapted extrusion based bioprinting system which co-prints materials so a cell-laden hydrogel and microfluidic device substrate can be printed simultaneously with optimised cell viability. Using this strategy, a cancer metastasis model shall be created which aims to be insightful in the study of cancer initiation and testing of new medicinal therapies. Based in the Biointerface group, led by Dr Shery Huang in the Mechanics, Materials and Design division within the Engineering department, the technical design and optimisation of manufacture shall take place. Collaboration with Professor Andrew Lever from the Department of Medicine shall provide expertise in engineered endothelial progenitor cells (EPC) to visualise and assess cell activity on the device.