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Offer: 540

Artificial Blood Vessels for Cancer Research

Microfluidic System for In-vitro Simulation of Metastasis Formation

The microfluidic system developed at KIT is made of the biocompatible plastic polycarbonate and allows the in vitro simulation of processes in the smallest blood vessels.

Cancer diseases are highly dangerous in particular, because tumors may form metastases. Cancer cells migrate into the blood, penetrate the walls of finest blood vessels, and form secondary tumors in other organs.

State of the art

With the help of in-vitro simulation, physicians therefore study the migration of cancer cells through blood vessels. So far, a cell culturing vessel, called Boyden chamber, has been the only means available for such simulations. In the Boyden chamber, static conditions prevail. For understanding the processes in blood vessels, however, it is important to also consider blood flow.


At the Institute of Microstructure Technology (IMT) of KIT, a microfluidic system has been developed to simulate processes in small blood vessels taking into account flow mechanics. The system consists of two thin platelets made of transparent plastic. The top plate is provided with capillary channels simulating small blood vessels. These channels may be passed by liquids. The bottom plate contains chambers that may be filled with a cell-containing liquid to simulate the surrounding tissue. Between both plates, a transparent membrane containing pores is located.


To study metastasis formation, physicians use blood samples contaminated with cancer cells and sow endothelial cells onto the membrane. In the human body, these endothelial cells line the walls of the blood vessels. The cancer cells attach to the endothelial cells. Some are removed by the flow, others succeed in adhering. They displace the endothelial cells, penetrate the pores of the membrane, and enter one of the bottom chambers. This migration of cancer cells can be observed by the researchers using a microscope.

Options for companies

The KIT looks for partners for the further development and series production of the system.

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Your contact person for this offer

Jan-Niklas Blötz
Innovation Manager New Materials, Climate and Environment
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Innovation and Relations Management (IRM)
Phone: +49 721 608-26107
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