Microfactories for tissue engineering, or: Regeneration-on-a-chip (Termis)
At the European Chapter Meeting of the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society 2017, Pamela Habibovic of the Merln Institute (MUMC+, Maastricht, the Netherlands) will chair the symposium "Microfactories for tissue engineering". Co-Chair is David Barata,the keynote speaker wil be Andrew DeMello (ETH Zürich). De Mello will speak on "Droplet-Based Microfluidics: Towards Massively Parallel Chemistry and Biology".
This symposium aims at highlighting the potential of microfluidic technologies in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, by giving stage to an ultimate challenge, being the development of microfactories for tailored deliverable biomaterials and cell loaded 3D constructs.
The ability to microfabricate multilayed devices by using multiplexed valve systems, and to integrate multiple cell sources and synthetic or biomimetic, ECM-like materials, has enabled recreation of the "in vivo" like microenvironments up to a level not seen before in standard cell culture methods. This new framework, integrating biomaterials, topographical and chemical cues, and last but not the least, a sense of tri-dimensionality and compartmentalization has made studies such as cell migration, proliferation and differentiation more realistic than on flat polystyrene cell culture dishes that are now used as the golden standard. Indeed, an increasing number of publications in the field of organ-on-chip has shown that integration of 3D matrices, e.g. hydrogels into microfluidic platforms plays a valuable role in mimicking the natural in vivo microenvironment.
Another technology that is highly valuable for establishing microfluidic platforms as a standard tool in biomaterials-, tissue engineering- and regenerative medicine research is biofabrication. Biofabrication allows delicate handling of cells under appropriate culture conditions, within the microfluidic network, which, combined with engineered complex physico-chemical phenomena can result in the production of highly sophisticated tissue constructs. From these, a wide variety of bioproducts can be generated, from ceramic nanoparticle synthesis to drug delivery polymeric spheres, from cell-loaded microfibers to hydrogel based bioinks, among many other still to be explored.
Taken together, microfluidics, in particular in combination with biofabrication, has the potential to become not only a valuable screening tool but also an efficient production tool of sophisticated tissue-engineering and regenerative medicine constructs, and therefore deserves a prominent place at a conference such as TERMIS in Davos.