Tailoring the extracellular environment of in vitro systems

Abstract: Being able to recreate the complexity of in vivo systems in artificial environments is a challenging and very ambitious goal [1]. From base research to pharmaceutical industry, we witnessed an increasing demand for devices able to predict the response of complex physiological systems (from the organ to the individual) to different kinds of substances. Examples vary from food quality check to new drugs screening, exploiting microfluidics to reduce the cost of the reagents and increase the experimental throughput. It is clear that the way to achieve such an ambitious goal requires the development of individual capabilities and modules able to push forward a specific aspect of the state-of-the-art chip biomimicry. Micronit Microtechnologies focused on the realization of a microfluidic device for cell culturing, aiming to be compatible with the standard procedures used in the biological laboratories and, at the same time, with the control of the extracellular environment. Micronit’s off the shelf organ-on-a-chip device is a multi-layer chip based on a resealable architecture, allowing to close and open the device through the mechanical compression of a gasket microfabricated on two opposite glass slides. These two gaskets are located on the opposite sides of a porous membrane carrier, forming two compartments that can be independently perfused, as needed for the development of biological barrier models. The compatibility of such platform with cell cultures has already been shown in the past, here we will focus on the recent work made on the sensitization and control of the extracellular environment. In particular we will demonstrate the integration of porous ceramic membranes with high-stiffness (in collaboration with Metalmembranes), the coupling of proteins on the membranes in predefined patterns (in collaboration with Alvéole and Fluigent) and the real-time optical measurement of dissolved oxygen in the cell culture medium (in collaboration with PreSens).