A modular and standardized plug-and-play platform for Organ-on-Chip
hDMT researchers from the UTwente recently published their article Modular operation of microfluidic chips for highly parallelized cell culture and liquid dosing via a fluidic circuit board in Microsystems & Nanoengineering which presents the development of a plug-and-play modular and standardized platform for research with Organ-on-Chip.
Microfluidic systems enable automated and highly parallelized cell culture with low volumes and defined liquid dosing. To achieve this, systems typically integrate all functions into a single, monolithic device as a "one size fits all" solution. However, this approach limits the end users' (re)design flexibility and complicates the addition of new functions to the system.
To address this challenge, the authors propose and demonstrate a modular and standardized plug-and-play fluidic circuit board (FCB) for operating microfluidic building blocks (MFBBs), whereby both the FCB and the MFBBs contain integrated valves. A single FCB can parallelize up to three MFBBs of the same design or operate MFBBs with entirely different architectures.
Components of the modular platform. (CC BY 4.0)
The operation of the MFBBs through the FCB is fully automated and does not incur the cost of an extra external footprint. They use this modular platform to control three microfluidic large-scale integration (mLSI) MFBBs, each of which features 64 microchambers suitable for cell culturing with high spatiotemporal control.
They show as a proof of principle that it is possible to culture human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) for multiple days in the chambers of this MFBB. Moreover, they also use the same FCB to control an MFBB for liquid dosing with a high dynamic range. The results demonstrate that MFBBs with different designs can be controlled and combined on a single FCB.
This novel modular approach to operating an automated microfluidic system for parallelized cell culture will enable greater experimental flexibility and facilitate the cooperation of different chips from different labs.
Around the time that the article was published, the first author, Anke Vollertsen, defended her thesis cum laude.