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IMcoMET Explores Innovative Solutions for Skin Cancer Through Micro-3D Printing


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On April 29, 2024,Rotterdam-based startup IMcoMET is using micro-3D printing technology to combat the challenge of skin cancer. The company is committed to developing anti-cancer solutions, particularly for skin cancer treatments. They employ innovative strategies to develop customized drugs using micro-3D printing technology and apply them directly to the disease to improve efficacy and reduce side effects.

A new type of skin cancer treatment device made with micro-3D printing technology


To achieve this, IMcoMET uses a microprinting solution from American manufacturer Boston Micro Fabrication (BMF). This technology enables the company to topically extract an interstitial fluid containing biomarkers from the skin through microneedle technology for further study and diagnosis. This approach not only improves accuracy, but also offers the possibility of personalization.


Typically, much of the biochemical analysis of the human body is done through blood, but this method often requires invasive procedures and blood clotting can lead to unsatisfactory results. As a result, the researchers began to focus on other body fluids, particularly skin interstitial fluid. Extracting the skin's interstitial fluid, which circulates between tissue cells and is rich in biomarkers, via microneedles is a relatively non-invasive technique. At present, there are many kinds of microneedles in the market, including hollow microneedles and porous microneedles.

However, one of the related challenges is the amount of liquid extracted: most microneedles inserted directly into the skin do not provide sufficient volume. This means that a large number of needles are needed to achieve the desired volume, which is not the easiest or most comfortable method. This is what IMcoMET is tackling at this stage: the development of a high-precision minimally invasive device capable of extracting enough liquid at one time in a highly localized manner.


The part consists of two channels with a diameter of 100 µm, which are placed parallel at a distance of 20 to 40 µm

Microneedles extract precise biomarkers

The first generation of microneedles developed by IMcoMET was manufactured using a traditional method called M-Duo technology. The device consists of two needles and two tubes connected to a micro-peristaltic pump. One needle is responsible for injecting the carrier fluid, and the other needle absorbs the fluid at the same time, forming a circulation system in which the fluid continues to flow. As a result, the inhaled fluid contains a mixture of carrier and interstitial fluids. This design makes it possible to simultaneously detect multiple biomarkers such as exosomes, proteins and DNA.


The miniature 3D printing device was also compared with a jelly bean

Alexandre Motta, Chief Technology Officer at IMcoMET, explains: "The M-Duo technology is able to extract all soluble molecules around the needle insertion point. Our device is currently in clinical trials, but we want to go further. Our goal was to design a smaller device that would allow for more in-depth studies."

Motta added, "However, the implementation of miniaturization also faces challenges. First, the pipe connected to the pump must have a certain diameter. However, the two needles must be close enough to operate effectively, which means they must operate in two separate parallel channels only 20 microns apart. The question is, how do you do that without compromising accuracy?"

△ Miniature 3D printing equipment on display

BMF technology enables higher resolution

That's why IMcoMET is interested in Boston MicroManufacturing's 3D microprinting technology. The technology is based on projected microstereophotography (PµSL) with extremely high print resolution (2 to 50 microns) and tolerance range (10 to 25 microns). The technology is used to create a cap that holds the needle in place, which contains two channels with a diameter of 100 microns, just 20 microns apart. These channels are arranged so that the tubes connected to them are distributed in a V-shape, with each tube located on a separate side.

Alexandre Motta goes on to explain: "Thanks to this technology, we can adjust the needle as much as we want, for example by changing the depth, in order to map the gap fluid. Boston Microfabrication's technology is well suited to the precision and resolution requirements we need, and the SLA process cannot achieve this level. In addition, compared with nanoimprint technology, it is more affordable and can achieve rapid scale expansion. This makes it one of the ideal candidates for IMcoMET, and we are already working with the BMF team on other projects."

IMcoMET's innovative approach has the potential to change the way skin cancer is treated, providing patients with safer, personalized treatment options.

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