The Development of a Printable Device with Gravity-Driven Flow for Live Imaging Glioma Stem Cell Motility

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


The post-prognosis lifespan for those suffering with Glioblastoma (GBM) is approximately 13 months with current standard of care. Intratumoral heterogeneity is a common characteristic that hinders GBM treatment in the form of therapy resistant cell subsets and influence on cellular phenotypes. One cell subset in particular, glioma stem cells (GSCs), is frequently left behind in the brain parenchyma once the bulk of the tumor has been resected. Previous research has found that patient-derived GSCs displayed varying invasion responses with and without the presence of interstitial flow. Interestingly, GSCs from a single patient are heterogeneous, displaying differences among sub-colonies derived from the same parental line. To study the motility of cells under flow, PDMS microfluidics are commonly used. Unfortunately, this setup often involves active flow generation using pumps, limiting the number of cell lines that can be imaged at a time. To increase the throughput of GSC sub-colonies imaged simultaneously, we developed a bio-compatible, printable device fabricated to allow for passive, gravity-driven flow through a hydrogel that recapitulates the brain microenvironment, eliminating the need for pumps. Stereo lithography 3D printing was chosen as the manufacturing method for the device, and this facilitated design feature modification when prototyping, increased the potential complexity of future iterations, and avoided some of the hurdles associated with fabricating PDMS microfluidics. This printable imaging device allows for higher throughput live-imaging of cell lines to aid in the understanding of the relationships between intratumoral heterogeneity, invasion dynamics, and interstitial flow.



Live microscopy, cell imaging, stereolithography, 3D printing, motility, heterogeneity, glioblastoma