Sep 18, 2023

A Step Towards Scalable High-Content Organ-on-Chip Technologies

Bioengineering, Research
Composite of illustration of cardiac microtissue in device and photos of 3D printing microwires and of Qinghua Wu
Upper left: Schematic illustration of the cardiac microtissue in device. Lower left: 3D printing of microwires. Right: postdoctoral fellow Qinghua Wu.

Reposted from the Centre for Research and Applications in Fluidic Technologies (CRAFT).

In a recent publication, Professor Milica Radisic and her colleagues reported important technological advances towards the development of scalable and high-data-content heart-on-chip devices, which have the potential to revolutionize drug discovery and disease modelling.

Organ-on-chip technologies, which are human microtissue models hosted on plastic microfluidic devices, represent a promising alternative approach to animal testing that could accelerate the pace and increase the productivity of drug development pipelines. For this to become a reality, researchers need to be able to comprehensively profile a multitude of the microtissue’s functions and behaviours to appropriately benchmark disease phenotypes or the effects of new drug candidates.

Dr. Qinghua Wu, a postdoctoral fellow in the Radisic lab, led the development of the first heart-on-chip platform with integrated hardware to measure key physiological properties of human heart muscle. This hardware includes: soft 3D microelectrodes that non-invasively measure electrophysiological signals at high resolution; elastic microwires made from thermoplastic elastomers and quantum dots that record tissue contraction in real time; and carbon electrodes to induce paced tissue contractions (‘beating’). In addition, to accelerate the speed and volume of chip fabrication, microelectrodes and microwire were 3D printed directly into the chips.

The newly reported heart-on-chip platform shows how Prof. Radisic and her colleagues are addressing two major unmet needs—scalability and high-throughput functional readouts—for the translation and widespread adoption of all organ-on-chip technologies for disease research and drug discovery.

Wu Q, Zhang P, O’Leary G, Zhao Y, Xu Y, Rafatian N, Okhovatian S, Landau S, Valiante TA, Travas-Sejdic J, Radisic M. Flexible 3D printed microwires and 3D microelectrodes for heart-on-a-chip engineering. Biofabrication. 2023 Jun 22. doi: 10.1088/1758-5090/acd8f4.