3D tumor models for cancer research

Group: Biomaterials for regenerative therapies
Group leader: Elisabeth Engel (

Research in cancer has been always performed in a tissue culture plate, a 2D model that does not represent the physiology of the tissue; or in vivo in animal models like mice, that are far away from the human physiology. The development of new drugs has suffered from the limitation of these two models and potential molecules that can be good drug candidates fail during the clinical trials. Today’s interest in 3D models is increasing as they could better mimic the tumor microenvironment (cell populations, extracellular matrix proteins and cytokines expression, mechanical properties). In this project, the PhD student will develop more reliable 3D tumor tissues to understand better this disease and to create new platforms for anticancer drug screening. To accomplish this aim, the PhD will work with new biomaterials, extracellular matrices, either cell derived or tissue derived, and tumor cells to reproduce tumor microenvironments. Key enabling technologies based on microfluidics and 3D printing  will be used to better reproduce and validate the tumoral tissue microenvironment.

This is a highly interdisciplinary project in which we collaborate with clinicians and researchers in cancer.

The Biomaterials for Regenerative Therapies’ group is devoted to the development and knowledge transfer to industry of advanced biomaterials and scaffolds to be applied in innovative therapies applications.


Figure 1. Microtissues size (10×3 mm).
Figure 2. Microtissues protein composition.