News and Reviews (May 2018)

First Biohybrid Model of the Blood-Brain Barrier


3D Printed Devices for Drug Testing

Scientists at the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Pontedera created the first biohybrid device mimicking the blood-brain barrier by means of a Nanoscribe’s Photonic Professional GT. The blood-brain barrier acts as a membrane that protects the brain from pathogens and external agents. It is target of biomedical studies involving the treatment of several disorders in the central nervous system such as brain cancer, Alzheimer and multiple sclerosis. The Smart Bio Interfaces group coordinated by Professor Gianni Ciofani fabricated a complex microfluidic model resembling the real-scale natural membrane. The model consists of 50 artificial cylindrical tubes and endothelial cells. Each of the 3D-printed tubular structures has micrometer-sized pores uniformly distributed on the cylinder walls. Endothelial cells have been cultivated around this microcapillary system building a biological barrier mimicking the in vivo situation.

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Left: SEM close-up view of a single 3D printed tubular porous structure of the biomimetic microfluidic system.
Right: 3D real-scale blood-brain barrier model consisting of the 3D printed supporting polymer tubular structures and the endothelial cells covering them and forming a biological barrier.

This realistic model will help to understand the crossing mechanisms of drugs through the blood-brain barrier enabling future studies on drug delivery.

Read the full paper here: A 3D Real‐Scale, Biomimetic, and Biohybrid Model of the Blood‐Brain Barrier Fabricated through Two‐Photon Lithography