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October 15, 2010 (Vol. 30, No. 18)

Microfluidic Cell Culture Garners Interest

CellASIC Technology Mimics Physiological Tissue Transport Using Continuous Perfusion Systems

  • Gel Imaging

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    ONIX microfluidic experiment plates were designed for use in live-cell perfusion imaging. They feature crystal clear optics with a 170 µm glass slide, and they can image multiple microchambers in parallel.

    CellASIC’s second product is the 3D:M microfluidic cell culture array, which performs perfusion culture in 3-D gel format.  There are 24 independent units per 96-well plate, and no external hardware is required.  Used in such applications as cancer cell studies, drug screening, and culturing cells in a 3-D environment, the 3D:M enables high-quality gel imaging and uses 100 times less gel. “The result is improved throughput, reduced reagent usage, better data quality, and reduced cost,” Dr. Lee said.

    CellASIC’s newest product is a microfluidic perfusion array capable of maintaining liver-specific activity in cultured primary hepatocytes for more than 12 days after plating. The microfluidic hepatocyte array enables improved culture of primary human hepatocytes for in vitro drug evaluation studies of metabolic activity and long-term drug toxicity, according to Dr. Lee. In addition, “the system is a liver-like environment with blood and nutrients perfusing through it to achieve long-term viability and realistic morphology.”

    Using microfabrication technology to create a cell environment similar to the liver acinus, the system arranges hepatocytes in parallel, 3-D, plate-like configurations. Each culture region is separated by a fluidic sinusoid that enhances mass transport to the cells, and the exposure solution is continuously perfused to the cells at a rate of 100 microliters per day using a passive gravity method. To allow for operation with standard equipment and automated instruments, the microfluidic hepatocyte plates are formatted to a standard 96-well layout.

    “We believe this system will offer a new avenue for more clinically relevant liver-related studies, offering the benefits of improved long-term function, reduction of cell usage, and higher throughput studies,” said Dr. Lee.

    In the near term, CellASIC hopes to “educate the resesearch population about using microfluidic technologies for studying cells in vitro and controlling the environment” while finding new applications for CellASIC systems. “As the number of applications increases, microfluidic cell culture will become a more commonplace idea.”

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