Highly Porous Frozen Films Enable Easier Cell Seeding, Cell Recovery and Imaging as Biomaterial Substrates

Technology #34371

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Stephanie J. Florczyk, Ph.D.
External Link (www.ampac.ucf.edu)
Kailei Xu
Patent Protection

US Patent Pending
Evaluation of the effect of 3D porous Chitosan-alginate scaffold stiffness on breast cancer proliferation and migration
J Biomed Mater Res A, 2021 Apr 3. doi: 10.1002/jbm.a.37191
3D porous chitosan-chondroitin sulfate scaffolds promote epithelial to mesenchymal transition in prostate cancer cells
Biomaterials, 2020 Sep;254:120126. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2020.120126
Freeze-FRESH: A 3D Printing Technique to Produce Biomaterial Scaffolds with Hierarchical Porosity
Materials (Basel), 2020 Jan 12;13(2):354. doi: 10.3390/ma13020354.

Key Points

  • A highly porous thin film called "frozen film" developed as a biomaterial substrate
  • Thinner structure of films makes cell culture simpler than 3D porous scaffolds and enables better cell recovery for downstream analysis
  • Compatible with high-throughput screening systems


University of Central Florida researchers have developed biomaterial substrates that combine the benefits of 2D and 3D culture platforms while limiting the drawbacks. The UCF frozen films (FFs) are highly porous thin films with micron-scale porosity and fibrous struts. As biomaterial substrates, the FFs better replicate in vivo conditions and enable cells to attach quicker than 2D structures by providing a pore structure similar to 3D porous scaffolds (porous sponges). They are also much thinner structures (< 200 micrometers versus 1-2 millimeters), making cell culture simpler than 3D porous scaffolds. The thinner FF structure also enables better cell recovery for downstream analysis of the cells—for example, with PCR (polymerase chain reaction), sequencing, flow cytometry, etc. Additionally, the new structure keeps cells in a similar focal plane for imaging samples, compared to 3D porous scaffolds. The FFs are compatible with high-throughput screening systems used for pre-clinical drug screening.

Technical Details

The UCF invention encompasses frozen films (FFs) and methods for making them. The frozen, porous thin films can comprise a continuous phase made of a polymer, a ceramic material, or a combination of both and have an average porosity of 90-95 percent or more. Polymers can include chitosan, cellulose, alginate, collagen, gelatin, or derivatives or combinations. The pores can average in size from 1 micrometer (μm) to 200 μm and have a thickness of 1 μm to 1000 μm. The thickness of the cast film influences the pore structure of the films. In one example, the FFs can be used as a cell culture substrate in 96-well cell cultures for pre-clinical drug screening or for screening of other therapies. The FFs could also serve as biomaterial scaffolds implanted in vivo.

Breast cancer cells (MDA-MB-231) were cultured on the frozen films with different thicknesses and exhibited different responses, with the cells on the surface of the thinnest frozen films and the cells migrating into the porous structure of the thicker frozen films.

Partnering Opportunity

The research team is seeking partners for licensing and/or research collaboration.

Stage of Development

Prototype available.


  • Provides easier cell seeding, cell recovery, and imaging compared to 3D scaffolds
  • Provides greater features for cell interaction than air-dried 2D films
  • Culture platform can provide a highly customizable substrate that is easy to work with, enabling translation into the pre-clinical drug screening pipeline

Market Application

  • Cell culture substrate
  • Biomaterial scaffold