A wide range of 2D cell culture approaches successfully deploy so-called microfluidic large-scale integration (mLSI) for highly parallel and automated cellular (screening) assays1. However, the transition from 2D- to more physiological and informative 3D-organ culture models on microfluidic chips2, is often hampered by the technological gap to produce adequate and reliable microfluidic components such as pumps and valves.
The team of Matthias Meier from the Helmholtz Pioneer Campus now reports a highly robust 3D printing strategy that overcomes the major bioengineering bottlenecks for general 3D organ-on-chip implementation3. Going beyond traditional manufacturing approaches, the team managed to scale the pneumatic membrane valves (PMV) that precisely control the microfluidics to fit the distinct dimensions and requirements for a range of 3D-organoid models. Integration of the newly designed PMVs into mLSI devices permits robust formation, culture, retrieval, and fusion of organoid cultures of different cell types and in a highly parallel and automated manner. Initial biological validations further reveal the preservation of organoid structure and function. In summary, the technological advances promise to facilitate wider implementation of mLSI devices and thereby accelerate new insights into human tissue- and organ crosstalk, physiological compound testing, more rapid drug development, and clinical workflows to predict individual drug responses.
1. Liu, D., Chen, S. & Naing, M. W. A review of manufacturing capabilities of cell spheroid generation technologies and future development. Biotechnol. Bioeng.25, bit.27620 (2020).
2. Bhatia, S. N. & Ingber, D. E. Microfluidic organs-on-chips. Nat. Biotechnol.32, 760–72 (2014).