9 March 2013 Tailoring microfluidic systems for organ-like cell culture applications using multiphysics simulations
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Replacing animal testing with in vitro cocultures of human cells is a long-term goal in pre-clinical drug tests used to gain reliable insight into drug-induced cell toxicity. However, current state-of-the-art 2D or 3D cell cultures aiming at mimicking human organs in vitro still lack organ-like morphology and perfusion and thus organ-like functions. To this end, microfluidic systems enable construction of cell culture devices which can be designed to more closely resemble the smallest functional unit of organs. Multiphysics simulations represent a powerful tool to study the various relevant physical phenomena and their impact on functionality inside microfluidic structures. This is particularly useful as it allows for assessment of system functions already during the design stage prior to actual chip fabrication. In the HepaChip®, dielectrophoretic forces are used to assemble human hepatocytes and human endothelial cells in liver sinusoid-like structures. Numerical simulations of flow distribution, shear stress, electrical fields and heat dissipation inside the cell assembly chambers as well as surface wetting and surface tension effects during filling of the microchannel network supported the design of this human-liver-on-chip microfluidic system for cell culture applications. Based on the device design resulting thereof, a prototype chip was injection-moulded in COP (cyclic olefin polymer). Functional hepatocyte and endothelial cell cocultures were established inside the HepaChip® showing excellent metabolic and secretory performance.
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Britta Hagmeyer, Britta Hagmeyer, Julia Schütte, Julia Schütte, Jan Böttger, Jan Böttger, Rolf Gebhardt, Rolf Gebhardt, Martin Stelzle, Martin Stelzle, } "Tailoring microfluidic systems for organ-like cell culture applications using multiphysics simulations", Proc. SPIE 8615, Microfluidics, BioMEMS, and Medical Microsystems XI, 861509 (9 March 2013); doi: 10.1117/12.2002475; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2002475

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