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Hybrid device allows drug toxicity testing in liver cells

MAY 31, 2024
Designed to be low cost, a microfluidic device can test spheroid liver cell cultures on a chip for long-term drug toxicity experimentation.
Hybrid device allows drug toxicity testing in liver cells internal name

Hybrid device allows drug toxicity testing in liver cells lead image

For over a century, researchers have used cell cultures to test drug efficacy and toxicity. Researchers are increasingly using 3D cell cultures that use sphere-shaped homotypic cell clusters known as spheroids and simplified stem cell-grown tissue models called organoids, which can showcase the intercellular interactions that play out in tissues.

AlShmmari et al. presented a device that combines the use of spheroid cell cultures with microfluidics to improve drug discovery phases. The microfluidic chip device was designed for use with liver tissue cultures to specifically test for drug-induced injury, a costly side effect that befalls some market-ready drugs.

The microfluidic chip, which uses cost-effective techniques and affordable materials, was designed with academic laboratories in mind. For example, it was 3D printed using multiple components made from PMMA, which makes it suitable for high throughput production, and the team used laser machining to create a large array of microwells. The device can also be used for long-term cell culture and analysis and a multi-chamber layout allows for parallel experiments on the same chip.

“Once generated, these microscale 3D tissue models can be maintained viably for weeks, providing an advanced system for prolonged toxicology screening and other applications previously challenging in traditional 2D setups,” said author Qasem Ramadan.

The researchers are also working on developing in vitro models for use with other tissues such as adipose tissue and the small intestine, which they hope will allow future insights into obesity, diabetes, and other metabolic disorders.

Source: “Hepatic spheroid-on-a-chip: Fabrication and characterization of a spheroid-based in vitro model of the human liver for drug screening applications,” by Sultan K. AlShmmari, Roa S. Fardous, Zakia Shinwari, Dana Cialla-May, Jürgen Popp, Qasem Ramadan, and Mohammed Zourob, Biomicrofluidics (2024). The article can be accessed at https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0210955 .

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