THE EXTRACELLULAR MATRIX (ECM) plays a critical role in regulating cell and tissue behavior. Suppressive or promotional forces existing in the ECM act as a barrier to, or a promoter of, the onset and progression of disease. Adding to the complexity of this situation, ECM compositions differ vastly depending on the cell types they surround. For example, the ECM of cartilage is dramatically different than the ECM of brain tissue. Changes in the conditions of the ECM (growth factors, cytokines, aberrant proteases, hormones, tissue architecture, etc) will affect cell proliferation and differentiation which ultimately determine the healthy or diseased-state of the associated cells.

THE REVOLUTIONARY INNOVATION OF QGEL is a novel method to synthetically create specialized ECMs that provide the necessary structural and biochemical support to promote physiologically accurate behavior of any cell type including primary cells.

QGel is the only fully synthetic and tunable hydrogel adaptable to a multitude of cell types. More specifically, this means that small and large molecules, degradable linkers and stiffness properties can be altered to support or inhibit tissue growth as occurs in the in vivo situation.


Cell secreted molecules form the extracellular matrix (ECM) surrounding cells in vivo. Changes in the factors of the ECM affect cell behavior as well as the onset and progression of disease.

Consequences of controlling the properties of a synthetic ecm composition:

  • QGel can construct functionalized ECMs that grow any cell type (from cell lines to organoids)
    in a biologically relevant way
  • QGel solutions are scalable to meet industrial drug development demands


CANCER CELLS IN VIVO proliferate to form tumors through impressive reciprocity with their microenvironment: cells communicate with each other and with the extracellular matrix dynamically via junctions, receptors, hormones, biomolecules and other soluble factors.

It is this mutual interchange of information between cancer cells and their surroundings that guides tumorigenesis during development and permits the functional organization of cells into tumors.


PREDICTIVE CELLULAR ASSAYS yield data that are representative of clinical biology. This is the basis for all cell-based assays developed at QGel. QGel assays are physiologically-relevant because they:

  • Allow clonogenic tumor growth and;
  • Promote the natural expression of desired physiological features of the disease.

With client defined cell-types, targets and disease features, QGel custom-designs hydrogel matrix products based on the right selection of biological, biophysical and biochemical components inspired by the relevant ECM.

The final product is a unique QGel® formulation in either Vial format (for bench work) or Assay Kit format (for high throughput screening), designed for the seamless transfer to client laboratories. Each assay is fully compatible with standard laboratory equipment and automation systems. Our goal is to equip each client with the tools necessary (QGel Products and protocols) to run their own drug testing campaigns in-house. We ensure that all data is highly reproducible and we offer full customer support and training as we transfer the assay to our clients facilities.

CLINIC. The tumor microenvironment (TME) plays a key role in disease progression. The TME contains a myriad of promotional forces that influence cell signaling, target expression and ultimately tumor growth. In order to increase predictive power earlier in drug development, in vitro screening campaigns need to account for these complexities.

QGEL. QGel’s approach is to design a TME using our hydrogel technology to support both clonogenic tumor growth as well as the expression of specific physiologic features that are of interest to our client. No other in vitro system exists that models for the complexities of the microenvironment.


Library of existing QGel formulations

QGel has a library of existing formulations for a wide variety of cell lines ready to order off the shelf now. Each product comes with the necessary protocols to start your experiments today. Our catalog of cell specific formulations is growing every month. The WEBSHOP can be browsed to identify existing formulations by cell-line, organ type, or research use.
QGel also has MATRIX ID SCREENING KITS available for researchers to identify their own synthetic ECM.

If you are unable to find the formulation for your particular cell line, please contact us to inquire about us identifying one for you. The process for this is described in the next section.


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Designing customized ECMs starts with client collaboration to identify the cell types and desired target features of interest. QGel then screens its library of microenvironment components to find the formulation that best satisfies the objectives of the assay.

Many combinations of the following parameters are tested: Gel stiffness (from soft to hard), degradability (from highly degradable to non-degradable), binding sites (with integrin binding sites vs. none), growth factors and media conditions.

Once we identify a hit formulation and present the data/outcome to our clients, we then transfer the assay to client facilities. We manufacture QGel® Products in any quantity required by the client in either Vial format (for bench work) or Assay Kit format (for high throughput screening). All assays are compatible with standard lab screening equipment and downstream analytical equipment.

See Key Product Features
See Key Product Features


Unique, reproducible and defined.

QGel matrix formulation is produced for consistent and natural target-expression.

No special environment constraints.

Encapsulate cells at room temperature with standard liquid-handling devices.

No interference from QGel matrix.

Suitable for testing small-molecules and biologics e.g. antibodies.

Flexible Packaging Formats.

Formulations can be packaged in either Vial Format for use on the bench, or in Assay Kit format which is compatible with any standard liquid handling robot.


QGEL® PRODUCTS are designed for the seamless transfer to our client laboratories. Functionalized QGel® Assays and protocols are compatible with standard laboratory equipment and automation workflows and are highly reproducible.

QGel® Products are stable and have a shelf-life of 5 years under correct storage conditions, and can be re-ordered as needed in any quantity.

Assay Kit Transfer

Vial Transfer

QGEL® ASSAY PRODUCTS INCLUDE validated protocols for cell encapsulation, screening, readouts and drug testing. QGel also provides hands-on support to ensure the successful integration of QGel Assay Kits at client facilities.

CLIENTS HAVE FULL CONTROL of assay workflows once QGel® Products have been integrated at our client’s site. Since QGel products are compatible with standard lab equipment and automation systems, clients are independent for drug testing and downstream analysis with their own facilities.


Lung cancer and the microenvironment

Factors in the microenvironment effect cell behavior

Expression of complex drug targets

Expression of ETRs by LN229 is microenvironment-
-dependent and happens at specific point

Hyponia in different tumor

Target experssion happens at unique timepoints that affect drug scheduling

QGel ECM vs. convencionel assay technologies

Target expression in QGel could not be accomplished with conventionel assays

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Innovating Drug Discovery
QGel enables drug development in a laboratory environment that accurately and reliably mimics the functioning of human organs, which means greater predictability of drug efficacy before the clinical phase. With an improved understanding of a drug’s potential, researchers spend more time and resources on the most promising therapies.

Innovating Diagnostics
QGel diagnostic tools test drug efficacy directly on tumor cells reproduced from biopsy, which means patients gain access to therapies tailored specifically to their disease. QGel advances patient outcomes, promoting personalised and accelerated treatments in an economically sustainable way.

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