Bioengineering and Public Health: Biomedical Materials and Devices for Bridging the Biotic-Abiotic Interface
Constructing and Analyzing Organs on a Chip System
Shuichi Takayama, University of Michigan
This presentation will describe recent efforts to combine the latest capabilities in micro/nanotechnology, tissue engineering, and cell biology to create miniature models of the human body. There are four public health-relevant applications for manipulating cells outside that body: (i) to test drug candidates and get an indication of how promising and safe the drug is before administration to humans or animals, (ii) to improve cell based therapies such as in vitro fertilization, (iii) to enable cell-based diagnosis such as analyzing white blood cell function after an infection, and (iv) to perform basic science studies that will give insights into disease. While the ability to maintain human cells in culture dishes has been around for several decades, unfortunately, cell can behave very differently depending on how they are cultured. Sub-optimal cultures can lead to (i) unreliable drug efficacy/toxicity predictions, (ii) sub-optimal cell therapies, (iii) wrong diagnosis, (iv) and misunderstanding of disease mechanisms. Until relatively recently, most of the focus on improving cell culture has been to improve the media, or the liquid solution and additives used to grow the cells in. But there is an increasing realization that this alone is insufficient. There has to be modifications made to the hardware aspects of cell culture as well. We need to recreate fluid flow, mechanical stretching, chemical interactions between cells from different organs, and so forth that can better mimic what cells experience in our bodies. Only then can cells not just be prevented from dying, but really bring out the functions they would perform the way they would perform it inside the body in their physiological tissues and organs.
This presentation will give an overview of efforts in our laboratory and beyond to develop microfluidic systems with living cells that mimic different parts of our body in this manner. The seminar will also present some basic concepts in microfluidic technology that enable recreation of physiological microenvironments as well as enable cell sorting and biochemical analysis. Microfluidic topics to be covered include compartmentalized microfluidic systems, laminar flow, and aqueous two phase systems. Specific biomedical topics that will be discussed include, microfluidic in vitro fertilization, lung-on-a-chip, and engineered 3D micro-tumors.