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Project TitleMicrodevice to Recapitulate Hypoxic Microenvironments for Tumor Modeling
Track Code2016-162
Short Description
TagsMicrodevice, hypoxia, cancer, tumor microenvironment
Posted DateMay 15, 2017 5:24 PM

Market Opportunity

Hypoxia is a state in which oxygen is deficient in tissues and is involved in many biological processes involving health and diseases. In the context of cancer, hypoxia plays a significant role in cancer phenotype, metabolism and progression. Despite the obvious importance of studying hypoxia, state-of-the-art engineering tools to replicate a cancer or model cancer tumors is limited. 3-D models have been explored, such as tumor spheroids; however, they do not allow high-content analysis such as live-cell tracking and gene expression assays, and require deep imaging capabilities such as two-photon or confocal imaging. In addition, artificial or chemical induction of hypoxia may adversely affect off-target signaling pathways, and commercially available hypoxia chambers limit high throughput applicability. Therefore, there is a need to model naturally occurring hypoxia in cancer tumors in vitro.

USC Solution

USC researchers have designed a microdevice that recapitulates natural, cell-driven hypoxia with the ability to interface with high-content, high-throughput analyses. The device provides a physical barrier, which prevents passive diffusion of oxygen to a cancer cell monolayer, much like in the case of limited oxygen diffusion in a hypoxic core of a tumor. Furthermore they mimicked the real tumor by micropatterning the cancer cells into designated shapes and sizes, and surrounding the micropatterned “tumor island” with a monolayer of stromal cells.

Value Proposition

  • Microdevice is capable of live-cell tracking and single-cell capture
  • Will be useful in downstream genetic, proteomic and metabolic analyses
  • Can serve as predictive models for mechanistic research, drug screening and personalized medicine


  • Tumor microenvironment models
  • Measure hypoxia in tumor cells

Stage of Development

  • Experimentally validated
  • Available for exclusive and non-exclusive license

Intellectual Property


Provisional Patent Application Filed

Contact Information

Moumita Chakraborty, Licensing Associate

USC Stevens Center for Innovation

(213) 821-6067



File Name Description
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