Researchers at IIT-Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia fabricated an artificial device reproducing a 1:1 scale model of the blood-brain barrier (BBB). The device, which is a combination of artificial and biological components, will be fundamental for studying new therapeutic strategies to overcome blood-brain barrier and treat brain diseases, such as tumors.
It is a microfluidic device that combines artificial components made with 3-D advanced microfabrication techniques (two-photon lithography) and biological ones, that is endothelial cells (the cells covering blood vessels).
The device is few millimeters big and fluids can pass through it at the same pressure as blood in brain vessels.
The prototype has been developed owing to an extremely multidisciplinary approach that was based on micro-nanofabrication competencies, modeling and microfluidodynamics.
In the future researchers will use the device to understand the interaction of drugs or of drug delivery nano-vectors to overcome the blood-brain barrier and target the central nervous system. The main goal is to find new therapeutic strategies for the treatment of brain cancer and brain diseases, such as Alzheimer and multiple sclerosis.