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BLOC project

Benchtop NMR for lab-on a-chip

Technology and objective

Recent advances in tissue engineering offer new approaches to metabolic disease modelling and drug discovery by providing biologically relevant models of tissues and organs in vitro integrated with sensing technology. This technology has the potential to revolutionise the pharmaceutical industry by enabling reliable and high predictive in vitro testing of chemical compounds. The capability to miniaturise microfluidic systems and advanced tissue fabrication procedures have enabled researchers to create multiple 3D in vitro models with a high degree of control over experimental variables for high-content screening applications.

BLOC objective is to develop a benchtop spectrometer based on magnetic resonance spectroscopy and imaging using dynamic nuclear polarisation (DNP-MR). The integration of this technology with tissue engineering systems will be applied to monitor disease and evaluate responses to different stimulus. As a proof-of-concept, this project will fabricate a biomimetic model composed of liver spheroids and pancreatic islets and develop the necessary DNP-MR hardware and software to study metabolic diseases.

Applications and impact

The technology derived from this project will have a direct impact in the society and the public opinion since it will allow a significant reduction on the use of animals for experimentation purposes, minimizing ethical issues related with this topic. Moreover, the use of human engineered tissues will bring pre-clinical experiments more accurate and efficient, facilitating the extrapolation of results to humans.

The idea is to create a standardized and small device which can be easily installed in any laboratory. Besides being used in the biomedical field, the equipment developed in this project will be an easy-to-use and low-cost system with potential applications in other areas, as environmental control and chemical industry.


08028 Barcelona

United Kingdom 
Abingdon OX13 5QX





Interview with Irene Marco-Rius and Javier Ramón Azcón, coordinators of BLoC project

BLoC is a European Project that brings together different academic and industrial partners to improve a new technology that integrates tissue engineering and magnetic resonance spectroscopy using dynamic nuclear polarisation (DNP-MR), to monitor diabetes and liver diseases.

Irene and Javier talked about their work and involvement in the project, and shared with us some personal feelings and opinions about the project and the future of this new technology.

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On the International Day of Women and Girls in Science we present the women that helps making BLOC a reality

Today, the 11th of February, is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, declared by a resolution of the United Nations on 2015. This day recognizes the critical role women and girls play in science and technology. To celebrate it BLOC wants to make visible the eight women involved on the project.

Inside this small interview you will find out about their trajectory and discover some reflections and personal experiences related with what they think about the role of women in science.

Enjoy the reading!

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