Organ on a chip for biomedical experimentation
Scientists at the CSIC and at CIBER have developed a device which combines microelectronics and microfluidics to reproduce cell barrier conditions and to monitor them. It has applications on medical essays, to test drugs designed to penetrate cell barriers, such as antitumoral drugs for brain tumors or treatments for neurodegenerative diseases.
Cell cultures are a promising alternative to avoid animal testing. Nevertheless, they have an unresolved issue: they are static cultures, which don’t reproduce the dynamic factors the cells are exposed to in an alive organ or tissue, factors like pressure or fluids surrounding the cells.
Scalable and detachable
The device is composed of a microfluidic system (the fluid is a serum enriched with nutrients which emulates blood) that reproduces the flow of a cell barrier. It has an electrode system to monitor on real-time the permeability of the barrier through TEER (Transendothelial/Epithelial Electric Resistance) measures. At the same time, it enables visualizing the cell culture. The device has been validated in blood-brain barrier model using animal brain endothelial cells.
It can be scaled to different geometries and applied for experimentation with different cell types. Besides, the microfluidic system is reusable, which reduces the laboratory material expenses. Only the membrane where cell cultures are placed is single-use. The device is scalable, detachable and gives easy access to the inner membrane. And, most important, it is a more reliable tool for essays than static culture cells.