“Using Microfluidic Engineering to Enable Physiologically Predicitive Cell Analysis”
In order to link knowledge of molecular mechanisms to phenotypes and disease states, the reductionist approach of cell biology has given way to the dynamic study of complex networks of interacting systems within single cells. Traditional, static 2D culture methods are often insufficient to provide relevant data for this type of experimentation. New microfluidic technologies for cell culture enable unprecedented control over the live cell environment. The key benefits of microfluidic cell culture are the creation of a more biologically relevant in vitro environment to predict in vivo activity and a precise, standardized format that is accessible to biologists. We have designed microfluidic cell culture chambers that recreate the mass transport environment of tissues, elicit cell responses to dynamic solution changes, model host-pathogen interactions, and enable long-term perfusion culture in a three-dimensional extracellular matrix. These design features were engineered into a standard format to facilitate liquid handling and live cell imaging. We incorporated a control system to automate the control of flow, temperature, and gas environment of the cells during experiments. This configuration allows the operation of application-specific microfluidic plates, including designs for media solution switching, spatial gradients, 3D culture, and single cell analysis. Our future work focuses on refining these physiologic models and expanding the set of application-specific designs.
Speaker: Alex Mok, EMD Millipore