E3: Volumetric bioprinting of pancreatic cancer models

Project overview

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma is a devastating type of cancer with poor prognosis and low survival rates. In it, the typically soft (stroma) surrounding the tumor site stiffens into a dense, fibrous tumor microenvironment. [1] This stiffening, which seems to block the uptake and effectiveness of anticancer drugs, is caused by the crosstalk between pancreatic cancer cells and the surrounding stromal cells. To better understand this inflammatory process, we´d like to bioprint 3D models of the pancreatic tissue and follow the molecular interaction across cells in them. [2]

We use a novel light-based bioprinting technology developed in the lab to fabricate these 3D tissue models. This technology, called tomographic volumetric bioprinting, allows us to fabricate cell-laden cm-scale complex structures within seconds. [3] These bioprinted constructs are highly viable and can be matured for up to several weeks.

Immunofluorescence images of coculture fibroblasts and pancreatic ductal epithelial cells.

The objective of this summer internship project is to contribute to the development of more biologically relevant biofabricated pancreatic adenocarcinoma models, by incorporating vasculature or immune cells, for example. These complex constructs populated by multiple cell types can then be used for drug screening and interrogated with advanced microscopy techniques to study the behavior of cells.

The student candidate should be methodic and organized, and have experience in cell culture and should be interested in biofabrication. They should also have good communication skills in English. Experience with 3D cell models or bioprinting is appreciated.

Viola Sgarminato ([email protected])
Jorge Madrid ([email protected])

For more information on the E3 program, please follow this link: https://eee.epfl.ch/e3program-at-a-glance/

[1] Orth, Michael, et al. “Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma: Biological hallmarks, current status, and future perspectives of combined modality treatment approaches.” Radiation Oncology 14.1 (2019): 1-20.
[2] Sgarminato, Viola, et al. “Tomographic volumetric bioprinting of 3D pancreatic cancer models.” bioRxiv (2023): 2023-01.
[3] Bernal, Paulina Nuñez, et al. “Volumetric bioprinting of complex living‐tissue constructs within seconds.” Advanced materials 31.42 (2019): 1904209.