The MEMIC is an ex vivo system to model the complexity of the tumor microenvironment

Libuše Janská, Libi Anandi, Nell C. Kirchberger, Zoran S. Marinkovic, Logan T. Schachtner, Gizem Guzelsoy, Carlos Carmona-Fontaine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is an urgent need for accurate, scalable and cost-efficient models of the tumor microenvironment. Here, we detail how to fabricate and use the metabolic microenvironment chamber (MEMIC) – a 3D-printed ex vivo model of intratumoral heterogeneity. A major driver of the cellular and molecular diversity in tumors is accessibility to the blood stream. Whereas perivascular tumor cells have direct access to oxygen and nutrients, cells further from the vasculature must survive under progressively more ischemic environments. The MEMIC simulates this differential access to nutrients, allow co-culturing any number of cell types, and it is optimized for live imaging and other microscopy-based analyses. Owing to a modular design and full experimental control, the MEMIC provides insights into the tumor microenvironment that would be difficult to obtain via other methods. As proof of principle, we show that cells sense gradual changes in metabolite concentration leading to predictable molecular and cellular spatial patterns. We propose the MEMIC as a complement to standard in vitro and in vivo experiments, diversifying the tools available to accurately model, perturb and monitor the tumor microenvironment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberdmm048942
JournalDMM Disease Models and Mechanisms
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • Tissue mimetics
  • Tumor metabolism
  • Tumor microenvironment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Immunology and Microbiology (miscellaneous)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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