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The University of Southampton

Research project: Blocking blood supply to starve cancerous tumours

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Microfluidic technology can potentially provide a platform for evaluation of clinical and patient-specific features for cancer therapy, while as an alternative to animal models to reduce the amount of animal tests.

Embolisation is a therapeutic procedure involving the introduction of embolic agents such as micro-sized particles into blood vessels in order to reduce or completely arrest the blood flow. This methodology has been widely used in the clinic to treat a variety of diseases such as tumours. However, there still remain challenges for the effective use of embolisation in clinical applications. This is largely associated with the delivery of embolic microparticles to the target in an accurate and controllable fashion without damaging neighbouring tissues, mainly due to the lack of understanding of the principles governing microparticle performance within the blood vessels.

Using embolic agents
Using embolic agents

Currently, the pre-clinical evaluation of embolisation processes is widely carried out through a variety of animal models such as mice, rabbits, goats and pigs. Although they can closely represent the environment in which embolic agents are exposed in the human tumour circulation, animal models are associated with several complications including experimental and economical limitations. In that regard, we develop an artificial model to mimic the blood vessel network using microfluidic technologies. It allows precise control to create and finely adjust the fluidic micro-environment in a biomimetic format. In addition, coupling with microscope-based imaging techniques provides a platform for the detection and quantification of behaviour of both microparticles and fluid in real time.

Associated research themes

Materials and surface engineering

Related research groups

Bioengineering Science
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