Office for Technology Commercialization

In Vitro Metastatic Tumor Model

Technology #2019-018

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Metastatic tumor model Integration of tumor cells, endothelial cell-lined vascular conduits and biochemical signals within a fibroblast-laden fibrin gel to reconstruct tumor microenvironmentsVascularized tumor model
Angela Panoskaltsis-Mortari, PhD
Professor, Department of Pediatrics
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Michael McAlpine, PhD
Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering
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Managed By
Kevin Nickels
Technology Licensing Officer 612-625-7289
Patent Protection

Provisional Patent Application Filed
3D Bioprinted in Vitro Metastatic Models via Reconstruction of Tumor Microenvironments
Advanced Materials, 2019, 31, 1806899

Bridges the gap between 2D cell culture and animal models

This technology is a new 3D bioprinted method to create in vitro tumor models. The 3D printed microenvironments reconstruct the chemical, physical and/or spatiotemporal aspects of native biological microenvironments. The design incorporates the vasculature and stromal elements involved in tumor microenvironments (e.g., tumor cells, fibroblasts and blood vessels). In addition, the technology has integrated spatiotemporal control of tumor cell migration and angiogenesis by creating chemical gradients of growth factors using 3D printed stimuli-responsive capsules.The model provides tools for understanding the mechanism of cancer metastasis, for drug screening and testing patient specific therapies.

Models tumor cell migration and other complex cell behaviors

Many anticancer drugs succeed in cell culture yet fail in pre-clinical testing because “drug-in-a-dish” assays doesn’t replicate the complexity of a tumor’s microenvironment. Conventional 2D monolayer cell cultures cannot accurately mimic characteristics of native tumor microenvironments, and current 3D cultured tumor cells, while able to more closely mimic natural behaviors, still cannot model the tumor microenvironment. This new 3D bioprinted platform helps bridge the gap between 2D cell cultures and animal models. The 3D models establish physiological cell–cell, cell–extracellular matrix (ECM) and cell–chemical signal interactions with precise spatiotemporal resolution. In addition, the constructs consist of human cells, rendering them more clinically relevant and versatile with the option to incorporate a patient's own cells for precise selection of effective therapies.

Phase of Development

  • Proof of concept. Working prototype tested with several cell lines.


  • Bridges the gap between monolayer cell culture and animal models
  • Provides a more complete model of tumor cell microenvironment and behavior
  • Modular design allows for incorporation of other cell types


  • 3D bioprinted in vitro tumor models
  • Mimics key steps of cancer dissemination (invasion, intravasation, extravasation and angiogenesis) 
  • Recreates chemical, physical and/or spatiotemporal aspects of native biological microenvironments
  • Could use patients’ own cells for precise selection of effective therapy
  • Metastatic model offers pre-clinical tool for anti-cancer drug screening


  • Cancer research
  • Cancer treatment
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Drug testing/screening
  • Identify therapeutic targets
  • Clinically design and test patient-specific treatment

Interested in Licensing?
The University relies on industry partners to further develop and ultimately commercialize this technology. The license is for the sale, manufacture or use of products claimed by the patents. Please contact Kevin Nickels to share your business needs and licensing and technical interests in this technology.