ESR 1: Developing a miniaturized ex vivo culture system for drug testing on patient-specific tumour specimens.




Project Title: Developing a miniaturized ex vivo culture system for drug testing on patient-specific tumour specimens.

Objectives: The ESR will be trained in the handling and culture of primary cancer tissue using standard cell culture techniques and perfusion-based bioreactor systems. The experience and knowledge will be applied for the development of a mesoscale perfusion-based multi-well devices to allow drug testing on patient-specific tumour tissue. In particular, the ESR will work within a team of engineers, biologists and clinicians to translate our bioreactor experience in a new device suitable for multi-well drug testing that will allow the maintenance of the primary tumour microenvironment in vitro, specifically supporting tumour cells and non-malignant lymphoid cells. In detail, by maintaining both immune and tumour cells, the device will allow to study their interaction and behaviour under therapeutic antibody treatment.

The patient-specific multi-well perfusion-based bioreactor will i) guarantee the ex-vivo culture of primary tumour tissue with preserved microenvironment, while ii) allowing medium-throughput drug screening capabilities. The ESR will adopt engineering design tools (CAD, FEM), state-of-the-art 3D printing techniques and will deal with human sample collection and primary cell culture.

Expected Results: A perfusion-based multi-well bioreactor will be designed to allow the ex-vivo preservation of the cellular composition of freshly resected tumour tissue specimens. After a period of validation and qualification, the device will be used in collaboration with oncologists to define patient-specific response to drugs.


Main Supervisors: Ivan Martin, Manuele Muraro

Duration: 36 months

Planned Secondment: BIOMIMX (3 months) to learn soft lithography technique and to acquire new knowledge regarding in vitro models design and validation requirement during the first year; LIFETEC (2 months) to receive training on the culture and maintenance of tissue biopsies ex-vivo during the second year; ST-UK (1 month) in the last year to accomplish a commercialization training.

Enrolment in Doctoral Degree: PhD in Biomedical Engineering (Faculty of Medicine) at the University of Basel

For any specific requests on this project, please get in contact with Dr. Manuele Muraro (