Stars, diamonds, circles.
Rather than your average bowl of Lucky Charms, these are three-dimensional cell cultures generated by an exciting new digital microfluidics platform, the results of which have been published in
"We already know that the microenvironment can greatly influence cell fate," says
"Everyone wants to do three-dimensional (3D) cell culture," explains
More naturalistic, 3D cell cultures are a challenge to grow. "The reagents are expensive, the materials are inconvenient for automation, and 3D matrices break down upon repeated handling," explains Wheeler, who was named an Inventor of the Year by the
Eydelnant was able to address these difficulties by adapting a digital microfluidics platform first created in the Wheeler lab. Cells, caught up in a hydrogel material, are gently flowed across a small field that, on a screen, looks much like a tiny chessboard. The cells are strategically manipulated by a small electric field across a cutout shape on the top plate of the system, made from indium in oxide, and become fixed.
"When we grew kidney cells in these microgels, the cultures formed hollow sphere structures resembling primitive kidneys within four or five days," Eydelnant claims.
The tool allows a great deal of flexibility in terms of the number of different kinds of cells that can be incorporated into the shapes, as well as the shapes and size of the microenvironments: whimsical, like the stars, diamond and circles of Lucky Charms, or designed to mimic living 3D niches, offering researchers a glimpse into how these factors all affect cell fate decisions.
What's more, according to Eydelnant, the platform permits researchers to run, "32 experiments at the same time, automatically, and all on something the size of a credit card."
"[This new] system allows for hands-free assembly of sub-microlitre, three-dimensional microgels. Each gel is individually addressable, fluid exchange is gentler than macro-scale alternatives, and reagent use is reduced more than 100-fold," Wheeler says.
"We believe that this new tool will make 3D cell culture a more attractive and accessible format for cell biology research," he adds.
Although the researchers can foresee numerous possible applications for this platform, the team is "particularly excited" about its potential for personalized medicine.
Wheeler argues, "We may be able to collect small tissue samples from patients, distribute them into 3D gels on digital microfluidic devices, and screen for conditions to identify individually tailored therapies. This is in the 'dream' stages for now, but we think the methods described here will be useful for these types of applications in the future."
CC AutoTriage1pm-140226-30TagarumaMar-4648184 30TagarumaMar
Most Popular Stories
- Chobani Counters Competition With Expanded Lineup
- What to Expect From an Amazon Smartphone
- Clinton Sought GOP Support for Health Plan
- Auto Parts Plant Opening in Pa., Jobs on Tap
- Earnings Season Starts Rough for Health Insurers
- Saucedo Mercer Running on Empty in Arizona
- Spring Salmon Return to San Joaquin
- IPO Market Shows Signs of Settling Down to Earth
- Pakistan Library Dedicated to 'Osama bin Laden, the Martyr'
- Venture Investments in U.S. Highest Since 2001