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by Keyword: On-a-chip

Vera, Daniel, Garcia-Diaz, Maria, Torras, Nuria, Castillo, Oscar, Illa, Xavi, Villa, Rosa, Alvarez, Mar, Martinez, Elena, (2024). A 3D bioprinted hydrogel gut-on-chip with integrated electrodes for transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER) measurements Biofabrication 16, 035008

Conventional gut-on-chip (GOC) models typically represent the epithelial layer of the gut tissue, neglecting other important components such as the stromal compartment and the extracellular matrix (ECM) that play crucial roles in maintaining intestinal barrier integrity and function. These models often employ hard, flat porous membranes for cell culture, thus failing to recapitulate the soft environment and complex 3D architecture of the intestinal mucosa. Alternatively, hydrogels have been recently introduced in GOCs as ECM analogs to support the co-culture of intestinal cells in in vivo-like configurations, and thus opening new opportunities in the organ-on-chip field. In this work, we present an innovative GOC device that includes a 3D bioprinted hydrogel channel replicating the intestinal villi architecture containing both the epithelial and stromal compartments of the gut mucosa. The bioprinted hydrogels successfully support both the encapsulation of fibroblasts and their co-culture with intestinal epithelial cells under physiological flow conditions. Moreover, we successfully integrated electrodes into the microfluidic system to monitor the barrier formation in real time via transepithelial electrical resistance measurements.

JTD Keywords: A-chip, Bioprinted, Caco-2, Cells, Culture, Gut-on-a-chip, Hydrogels, Impedance spectroscopy, Integrated electrodes, Intestinal barrier, Intestinal mucos, Model


Deng, LL, Olea, AR, Ortiz-Perez, A, Sun, BB, Wang, JH, Pujals, S, Palmans, ARA, Albertazzi, L, (2024). Imaging Diffusion and Stability of Single-Chain Polymeric Nanoparticles in a Multi-Gel Tumor-on-a-Chip Microfluidic Device Small Methods , e2301072

The performance of single-chain polymeric nanoparticles (SCPNs) in biomedical applications highly depends on their conformational stability in cellular environments. Until now, such stability studies are limited to 2D cell culture models, which do not recapitulate the 3D tumor microenvironment well. Here, a microfluidic tumor-on-a-chip model is introduced that recreates the tumor milieu and allows in-depth insights into the diffusion, cellular uptake, and stability of SCPNs. The chip contains Matrigel/collagen-hyaluronic acid as extracellular matrix (ECM) models and is seeded with cancer cell MCF7 spheroids. With this 3D platform, it is assessed how the polymer's microstructure affects the SCPN's behavior when crossing the ECM, and evaluates SCPN internalization in 3D cancer cells. A library of SCPNs varying in microstructure is prepared. All SCPNs show efficient ECM penetration but their cellular uptake/stability behavior depends on the microstructure. Glucose-based nanoparticles display the highest spheroid uptake, followed by charged nanoparticles. Charged nanoparticles possess an open conformation while nanoparticles stabilized by internal hydrogen bonding retain a folded structure inside the tumor spheroids. The 3D microfluidic tumor-on-a-chip platform is an efficient tool to elucidate the interplay between polymer microstructure and SCPN's stability, a key factor for the rational design of nanoparticles for targeted biological applications.© 2024 The Authors. Small Methods published by Wiley-VCH GmbH.

JTD Keywords: 3d cancer cell uptake, Cancer cells, Cell culture, Cell uptake, Cellular uptake, Diseases, Ecm penetration, Extracellular matrices, Extracellular matrix penetration, Functional polymers, Hydrogen bonds, Medical applications, Microfluidics, Microstructure, Nanoparticles, Polymeric nanoparticles, Scpns, Single chains, Single-chain polymeric nanoparticle, Stability, Tumor-on-a-chip, Tumors


Manzano-Muñoz A, Yeste J, Ortega MA, Samitier J, Ramón-Azcón J, Montero J, (2024). A New Microfluidic Device to Facilitate Functional Precision Medicine Assays Methods In Molecular Biology 2748, 99-108

Functional precision medicine (FPM) has emerged as a new approach to improve cancer treatment. Despite its potential, FPM assays present important limitations such as the number of cells and trained personnel required. To overcome these impediments, here we describe a novel microfluidic platform that can be used to perform FPM assays, optimizing the use of primary cancer cells and simplifying the process by using microfluidics to automatize the process.© 2024. The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.

JTD Keywords: Bioassay, Biological assay, Cancer treatment, Functional assays, Lab-on-a-chip devices, Microfluidics, Personalized medicine, Precision medicine


Olea, AR, Jurado, A, Slor, G, Tevet, S, Pujals, S, De La Rosa, VR, Hoogenboom, R, Amir, RJ, Albertazzi, L, (2023). Reaching the Tumor: Mobility of Polymeric Micelles Inside an In Vitro Tumor-on-a-Chip Model with Dual ECM Acs Applied Materials & Interfaces 15, 59134-59144

Degradable polymeric micelles are promising drug delivery systems due to their hydrophobic core and responsive design. When applying micellar nanocarriers for tumor delivery, one of the bottlenecks encountered in vivo is the tumor tissue barrier: crossing the dense mesh of cells and the extracellular matrix (ECM). Sometimes overlooked, the extracellular matrix can trap nanoformulations based on charge, size, and hydrophobicity. Here, we used a simple design of a microfluidic chip with two types of ECM and MCF7 spheroids to allow high-throughput screening of the interactions between biological interfaces and polymeric micelles. To demonstrate the applicability of the chip, a small library of fluorescently labeled polymeric micelles varying in their hydrophilic shell and hydrophobic core forming blocks was studied. Three widely used hydrophilic shells were tested and compared, namely, poly(ethylene glycol), poly(2-ethyl-2-oxazoline), and poly(acrylic acid), along with two enzymatically degradable dendritic hydrophobic cores (based on hexyl or nonyl end groups). Using ratiometric imaging of unimer:micelle fluorescence and FRAP inside the chip model, we obtained the local assembly state and dynamics inside the chip. Notably, we observed different micelle behaviors in the basal lamina ECM, from avoidance of the ECM structure to binding of the poly(acrylic acid) formulations. Binding to the basal lamina correlated with higher uptake into MCF7 spheroids. Overall, we proposed a simple microfluidic chip containing dual ECM and spheroids for the assessment of the interactions of polymeric nanocarriers with biological interfaces and evaluating nanoformulations' capacity to cross the tumor tissue barrier.

JTD Keywords: Extracellular matrix, Microfluidics, Nanoparticle mobility, Polymeric micelles, Tumor-on-a-chip


Pereira, Ines, Lopez-Martinez, Maria J, Samitier, Josep, (2023). Advances in current in vitro models on neurodegenerative diseases Frontiers In Bioengineering And Biotechnology 11, 1260397

Many neurodegenerative diseases are identified but their causes and cure are far from being well-known. The problem resides in the complexity of the neural tissue and its location which hinders its easy evaluation. Although necessary in the drug discovery process, in vivo animal models need to be reduced and show relevant differences with the human tissues that guide scientists to inquire about other possible options which lead to in vitro models being explored. From organoids to organ-on-a-chips, 3D models are considered the cutting-edge technology in cell culture. Cell choice is a big parameter to take into consideration when planning an in vitro model and cells capable of mimicking both healthy and diseased tissue, such as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC), are recognized as good candidates. Hence, we present a critical review of the latest models used to study neurodegenerative disease, how these models have evolved introducing microfluidics platforms, 3D cell cultures, and the use of induced pluripotent cells to better mimic the neural tissue environment in pathological conditions.

JTD Keywords: 3d in vitro models, bioprinting, ipsc cell culture, microfluidic device, 3d in vitro models, Bioprinting, Blood-brain-barrier, Cerebral organoids, Culture model, Endothelial-cells, Expression profile, Extracellular-matrix, Ipsc cell culture, Microfluidic device, Neurodegenerative diseases, On-a-chip, Pluripotent stem-cells, Shear-stress, Substrate stiffness


Perich, MP, Palma-Florez, S, Solé, C, Goberna-Ferrón, S, Samitier, J, Gómez-Romero, P, Mir, M, Lagunas, A, (2023). Polyoxometalate-Decorated Gold Nanoparticles Inhibit β-Amyloid Aggregation and Cross the Blood-Brain Barrier in a µphysiological Model Nanomaterials 13, 2697

Alzheimer's disease is characterized by a combination of several neuropathological hallmarks, such as extracellular aggregates of beta amyloid (Aβ). Numerous alternatives have been studied for inhibiting Aβ aggregation but, at this time, there are no effective treatments available. Here, we developed the tri-component nanohybrid system AuNPs@POM@PEG based on gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) covered with polyoxometalates (POMs) and polyethylene glycol (PEG). In this work, AuNPs@POM@PEG demonstrated the inhibition of the formation of amyloid fibrils, showing a 75% decrease in Aβ aggregation in vitro. As it is a potential candidate for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, we evaluated the cytotoxicity of AuNPs@POM@PEG and its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB). We achieved a stable nanosystem that is non-cytotoxic below 2.5 nM to human neurovascular cells. The brain permeability of AuNPs@POM@PEG was analyzed in an in vitro microphysiological model of the BBB (BBB-on-a-chip), containing 3D human neurovascular cell co-cultures and microfluidics. The results show that AuNPs@POM@PEG was able to cross the brain endothelial barrier in the chip and demonstrated that POM does not affect the barrier integrity, giving the green light to further studies into this system as a nanotherapeutic.

JTD Keywords: beta-amyloid, blood-brain barrier organ-on-a-chip, cellular uptake, citrate, cytotoxicity, electrocatalytic reduction, gold nanoparticles, hypothesis, nanorods, polyoxometalates, size, stability, surface, Alzheimers-disease, Blood–brain barrier organ-on-a-chip, Gold nanoparticles, Nanovehicle, Polyoxometalates, Β-amyloid


Villasante, A, Martinez, MJL, Alcon, C, Lizarribar, AG, Samitier, J, (2023). Bioengineering approaches to recapitulate the alternative vasculature in neuroblastoma Tissue Engineering Part a 29, OP-018

Ramon, J, Costae, JMF, Comas, JR, Muñoz, GL, Yeste, J, Florencio, LM, Gonzalez, MF, Lasierra, EM, Villafranca, AT, Ortega, MA, (2023). Training-on-a-Chip: a multi-organ device to study the effect of muscle exercise on insulin secretion in vitro Tissue Engineering Part a 29, OP‐290

Castano, O, Canosa, AL, Noguera, A, Torres, JF, Amodio, SP, Machado, AH, Engel, E, (2023). A versatile organ-on-a-chip model for the evaluation of proangiogenic biomaterials Tissue Engineering Part a 29, PP-377

Fernández-Costa, JM, Ortega, MA, Rodríguez-Comas, J, Lopez-Muñoz, G, Yeste, J, Mangas-Florencio, L, Fernández-González, M, Martin-Lasierra, E, Tejedera-Villafranca, A, Ramon-Azcon, J, (2023). Training-on-a-Chip: A MultiOrgan Device to Study the Effect of Muscle Exercise on Insulin Secretion in Vitro Advanced Materials Technologies 8, 2200873

Palma-Florez, Sujey, Lopez-Canosa, Adrian, Moralez-Zavala, Francisco, Castano, Oscar, Kogan, Marcelo J, Samitier, Josep, Lagunas, Anna, Mir, Monica, (2023). BBB-on-a-chip with integrated micro-TEER for permeability evaluation of multi-functionalized gold nanorods against Alzheimer's disease Journal Of Nanobiotechnology 21, 115

The lack of predictive models that mimic the blood-brain barrier (BBB) hinders the development of effective drugs for neurodegenerative diseases. Animal models behave differently from humans, are expensive and have ethical constraints. Organ-on-a-chip (OoC) platforms offer several advantages to resembling physiological and pathological conditions in a versatile, reproducible, and animal-free manner. In addition, OoC give us the possibility to incorporate sensors to determine cell culture features such as trans-endothelial electrical resistance (TEER). Here, we developed a BBB-on-a-chip (BBB-oC) platform with a TEER measurement system in close distance to the barrier used for the first time for the evaluation of the permeability performance of targeted gold nanorods for theranostics of Alzheimer's disease. GNR-PEG-Ang2/D1 is a therapeutic nanosystem previously developed by us consisting of gold nanorods (GNR) functionalized with polyethylene glycol (PEG), angiopep-2 peptide (Ang2) to overcome the BBB and the D1 peptide as beta amyloid fibrillation inhibitor, finally obtaining GNR-PEG-Ang2/D1 which showed to be useful for disaggregation of the amyloid in in vitro and in vivo models. In this work, we evaluated its cytotoxicity, permeability, and some indications of its impact on the brain endothelium by employing an animal-free device based on neurovascular human cells.In this work, we fabricated a BBB-oC with human astrocytes, pericytes and endothelial cells and a TEER measuring system (TEER-BBB-oC) integrated at a micrometric distance of the endothelial barrier. The characterization displayed a neurovascular network and the expression of tight junctions in the endothelium. We produced GNR-PEG-Ang2/D1 and determined its non-cytotoxic range (0.05-0.4 nM) for plated cells included in the BBB-oC and confirmed its harmless effect at the highest concentration (0.4 nM) in the microfluidic device. The permeability assays revealed that GNR-PEG-Ang2/D1 cross the BBB and this entry is facilitated by Ang2 peptide. Parallel to the permeability analysis of GNR-PEG-Ang2/D1, an interesting behavior of the TJs expression was observed after its administration probably related to the ligands on the nanoparticle surface.BBB-oC with a novel TEER integrated setup which allow a correct read-out and cell imaging monitoring was proven as a functional and throughput platform to evaluate the brain permeability performance of nanotherapeutics in a physiological environment with human cells, putting forward a viable alternative to animal experimentation.© 2023. The Author(s).

JTD Keywords: alzheimer disease (ad), cell-culture, cytotoxicity, endothelial-cells, gold nanoparticles, microfluidic platform, model, organ-on-a-chip (ooc), peptide, tight junction, trans-endothelial electrical resistance (teer), transport, Alzheimer disease (ad), Blood-brain barrier (bbb), Blood-brain-barrier, Blood–brain barrier (bbb), Gold nanoparticles, Organ-on-a-chip (ooc), Trans-endothelial electrical resistance (teer)


Mughal, S, Lopez-Munoz, GA, Fernandez-Costa, JM, Cortes-Resendiz, A, De Chiara, F, Ramon-Azcon, J, (2022). Organs-on-Chips: Trends and Challenges in Advanced Systems Integration Advanced Materials Interfaces 9,

Organ-on-chip platforms combined with high-throughput sensing technology allow bridging gaps in information presented by 2D cultures modeled on static microphysiological systems. While these platforms do not aim to replicate whole organ systems with all physiological nuances, they try to mimic relevant structural, physiological, and functional features of organoids and tissues to best model disease and/or healthy states. The advent of this platform has not only challenged animal testing but has also presented the opportunity to acquire real-time, high-throughput data about the pathophysiology of disease progression by employing biosensors. Biosensors allow monitoring of the release of relevant biomarkers and metabolites as a result of physicochemical stress. It, therefore, helps conduct quick lead validation to achieve personalized medicine objectives. The organ-on-chip industry is currently embarking on an exponential growth trajectory. Multiple pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies are adopting this technology to enable quick patient-specific data acquisition at substantially low costs.

JTD Keywords: A-chip, Biosensor, Biosensors, Cancer, Cells, Culture, Disease models, Epithelial electrical-resistance, Hydrogel, Microfabrication, Microphysiological systems, Models, Niches, Organ-on-a-chips, Platform


Marhuenda, E, Villarino, A, Narciso, M, Elowsson, L, Almendros, I, Westergren-Thorsson, G, Farre, R, Gavara, N, Otero, J, (2022). Development of a physiomimetic model of acute respiratory distress syndrome by using ECM hydrogels and organ-on-a-chip devices Frontiers In Pharmacology 13, 945134

Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome is one of the more common fatal complications in COVID-19, characterized by a highly aberrant inflammatory response. Pre-clinical models to study the effect of cell therapy and anti-inflammatory treatments have not comprehensively reproduced the disease due to its high complexity. This work presents a novel physiomimetic in vitro model for Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome using lung extracellular matrix-derived hydrogels and organ-on-a-chip devices. Monolayres of primary alveolar epithelial cells were cultured on top of decellullarized lung hydrogels containing primary lung mesenchymal stromal cells. Then, cyclic stretch was applied to mimic breathing, and an inflammatory response was induced by using a bacteriotoxin hit. Having simulated the inflamed breathing lung environment, we assessed the effect of an anti-inflammatory drug (i.e., dexamethasone) by studying the secretion of the most relevant inflammatory cytokines. To better identify key players in our model, the impact of the individual factors (cyclic stretch, decellularized lung hydrogel scaffold, and the presence of mesenchymal stromal cells) was studied separately. Results showed that developed model presented a more reduced inflammatory response than traditional models, which is in line with what is expected from the response commonly observed in patients. Further, from the individual analysis of the different stimuli, it was observed that the use of extracellular matrix hydrogels obtained from decellularized lungs had the most significant impact on the change of the inflammatory response. The developed model then opens the door for further in vitro studies with a better-adjusted response to the inflammatory hit and more robust results in the test of different drugs or cell therapy.

JTD Keywords: alveolar epithelial cells, ards, extracellular matrix, hydrogels, inflammation, lung-on-a-chip, Acute lung injury, Alveolar epithelial cells, Ards, Dexamethasone, Epithelial-mesenchymal transition, Extracellular matrix, Extracellular-matrix, Hydrogels, Inflammation, Lung-on-a-chip, Mesenchymal stromal cells, Oxygen, Stem-cells


Lopez-Muñoz, GA, Mughal, S, Ramón-Azcón, J, (2022). Sensors and Biosensors in Organs-on-a-Chip Platforms Advances In Experimental Medicine And Biology 1379, 55-80

Biosensors represent a powerful analytical tool for analyzing biomolecular interactions with the potential to achieve real-time quantitative analysis with high accuracy using low sample volumes, minimum sample pretreatment with high potential for the development of in situ and highly integrated monitoring platforms. Considering these advantages, their use in cell-culture systems has increased over the last few years. Between the different technologies for cell culture, organs-on-a-chip (OOCs) represent a novel technology that tries to mimic an organ's functionality by combining tissue engineering/organoid with microfluidics. Although there are still challenges to achieving OOC models with high organ mimicking relevance, these devices can offer effective models for drug treatment development by identifying drug targets, screening toxicity, and determining the potential effects of drugs in living beings. Consequently, in the future, we might replace animal studies by offering more ethical test models. Considering the relevance that different physiological and biochemical parameters have in the correct functionality of cells, sensing and biosensing platforms can offer an effective way for the real-time monitoring of physiological parameters and, in our opinion, more relevant, the secretion of biomarkers such as cytokines, growth factors, and others related with the influence of drugs or other types of stimulus in cell metabolism. Keeping this concept in mind, in this chapter, we focus on describing the potential use of sensors and biosensors in OOC devices to achieve fully integrated platforms that monitor physiological parameters and cell metabolism.© 2022. The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.

JTD Keywords: alignment, biosensors, cell, crystal microbalance biosensor, electrochemical biosensors, future, graphene oxide, label-free detection, organ-on-a-chip, oxygen, pre-clinical platforms, real-time analysis, screening, Biosensors, Organ-on-a-chip, Pre-clinical platforms, Screening, Sensors, Surface-plasmon resonance


Mir, Monica, Palma-Florez, Sujey, Lagunas, Anna, Jose Lopez-Martinez, Maria, Samitier, Josep, (2022). Biosensors Integration in Blood-Brain Barrier-on-a-Chip: Emerging Platform for Monitoring Neurodegenerative Diseases Acs Sensors 7, 1237-1247

Over the most recent decades, the development of new biological platforms to study disease progression and drug efficacy has been of great interest due to the high increase in the rate of neurodegenerative diseases (NDDs). Therefore, blood-brain barrier (BBB) as an organ-on-a-chip (OoC) platform to mimic brain-barrier performance could offer a deeper understanding of NDDs as well as a very valuable tool for drug permeability testing for new treatments. A very attractive improvement of BBB-oC technology is the integration of detection systems to provide continuous monitoring of biomarkers in real time and a fully automated analysis of drug permeably, rendering more efficient platforms for commercialization. In this Perspective, an overview of the main BBB-oC configurations is introduced and a critical vision of the BBB-oC platforms integrating electronic read out systems is detailed, indicating the strengths and weaknesses of current devices, proposing the great potential for biosensors integration in BBB-oC. In this direction, we name potential biomarkers to monitor the evolution of NDDs related to the BBB and/or drug cytotoxicity using biosensor technology in BBB-oC.

JTD Keywords: biosensors, blood−brain barrier (bbb), neurodegenerative diseases (ndds), organ-on-a-chip (ooc), Bbb, Biosensors, Blood-brain barrier (bbb), Electrical-resistance, Electrochemical biosensors, Endothelial-cells, In-vitro model, Matrix metalloproteinases, Mechanisms, Neurodegenerative diseases (ndds), Organ-on-a-chip (ooc), Permeability, Stress, Transendothelial electrical resistance (teer), Transepithelial, Transepithelial/transendothelial electrical resistance (teer), Transport


Lopez-Canosa, Adrian, Perez-Amodio, Soledad, Yanac-Huertas, Eduardo, Ordono, Jesus, Rodriguez-Trujillo, Romen, Samitier, Josep, Castano, Oscar, Engel, Elisabeth, (2021). A microphysiological system combining electrospun fibers and electrical stimulation for the maturation of highly anisotropic cardiac tissue Biofabrication 13, 35047

The creation of cardiac tissue models for preclinical testing is still a non-solved problem in drug discovery, due to the limitations related to thein vitroreplication of cardiac tissue complexity. Among these limitations, the difficulty of mimicking the functional properties of the myocardium due to the immaturity of the used cells hampers the obtention of reliable results that could be translated into human patients.In vivomodels are the current gold standard to test new treatments, although it is widely acknowledged that the used animals are unable to fully recapitulate human physiology, which often leads to failures during clinical trials. In the present work, we present a microfluidic platform that aims to provide a range of signaling cues to immature cardiac cells to drive them towards an adult phenotype. The device combines topographical electrospun nanofibers with electrical stimulation in a microfabricated system. We validated our platform using a co-culture of neonatal mouse cardiomyocytes and cardiac fibroblasts, showing that it allows us to control the degree of anisotropy of the cardiac tissue inside the microdevice in a cost-effective way. Moreover, a 3D computational model of the electrical field was created and validated to demonstrate that our platform is able to closely match the distribution obtained with the gold standard (planar electrode technology) using inexpensive rod-shaped biocompatible stainless-steel electrodes. The functionality of the electrical stimulation was shown to induce a higher expression of the tight junction protein Cx-43, as well as the upregulation of several key genes involved in conductive and structural cardiac properties. These results validate our platform as a powerful tool for the tissue engineering community due to its low cost, high imaging compatibility, versatility, and high-throughput configuration capabilities.

JTD Keywords: bioreactor, cardiac tissue engineering, cardiomyocytes, electrospinning, fabrication, fibroblasts, heart-on-a-chip, heart-tissue, in vitro models, myocardium, orientation, platform, scaffolds, Cardiac tissue engineering, Electrospinning, Field stimulation, Heart-on-a-chip, In vitro models, Microphysiological system


Ortega, MA, Rodríguez-Comas, J, Velasco-Mallorquí, F, Balaguer-Trias, J, Parra, V, Ramón-Azcón, J, Yavas, O, Quidant, R, Novials, A, Servitja, JM, (2021). In Situ LSPR Sensing of Secreted Insulin in Organ-on-Chip Biosensors 11, 138

Organ-on-a-chip (OOC) devices offer new approaches for metabolic disease modeling and drug discovery by providing biologically relevant models of tissues and organs in vitro with a high degree of control over experimental variables for high-content screening applications. Yet, to fully exploit the potential of these platforms, there is a need to interface them with integrated non-labeled sensing modules, capable of monitoring, in situ, their biochemical response to external stimuli, such as stress or drugs. In order to meet this need, we aim here to develop an integrated technology based on coupling a localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) sensing module to an OOC device to monitor the insulin in situ secretion in pancreatic islets, a key physiological event that is usually perturbed in metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes (T2D). As a proof of concept, we developed a biomimetic islet-on-a-chip (IOC) device composed of mouse pancreatic islets hosted in a cellulose-based scaffold as a novel approach. The IOC was interfaced with a state-of-the-art on-chip LSPR sensing platform to monitor the in situ insulin secretion. The developed platform offers a powerful tool to enable the in situ response study of microtissues to external stimuli for applications such as a drug-screening platform for human models, bypassing animal testing.

JTD Keywords: biosensor, cytoarchitecture, dna hybridization, gelatin, in situ insulin monitoring, langerhans, lspr sensors, microfluidic device, organ-on-a-chip, parallel, platform, scaffold, Animals, Biosensing techniques, Diabetes mellitus, type 2, Drug discovery, Drug evaluation, preclinical, Human pancreatic-islets, Humans, In situ insulin monitoring, Insulin secretion, Insulins, Lab-on-a-chip devices, Lspr sensors, Oligonucleotide array sequence analysis, Organ-on-a-chip, Surface plasmon resonance


De Chiara, F, Ferret-Miñana, A, Ramón-Azcón, J, (2021). The synergy between organ-on-a-chip and artificial intelligence for the study of nafld: From basic science to clinical research Biomedicines 9, 248

Non-alcoholic fatty liver affects about 25% of global adult population. On the long-term, it is associated with extra-hepatic compliances, multiorgan failure, and death. Various invasive and non-invasive methods are employed for its diagnosis such as liver biopsies, CT scan, MRI, and numerous scoring systems. However, the lack of accuracy and reproducibility represents one of the biggest limitations of evaluating the effectiveness of drug candidates in clinical trials. Organ-on-chips (OOC) are emerging as a cost-effective tool to reproduce in vitro the main NAFLD’s pathogenic features for drug screening purposes. Those platforms have reached a high degree of complexity that generate an unprecedented amount of both structured and unstructured data that outpaced our capacity to analyze the results. The addition of artificial intelligence (AI) layer for data analysis and interpretation enables those platforms to reach their full potential. Furthermore, the use of them do not require any ethic and legal regulation. In this review, we discuss the synergy between OOC and AI as one of the most promising ways to unveil potential therapeutic targets as well as the complex mechanism(s) underlying NAFLD.

JTD Keywords: artificial intelligence, extra-hepatic outcome, nafld, organ-on-a-chip, Artificial intelligence, Extra-hepatic outcome, Nafld, Organ-on-a-chip


Feiner-Gracia, N, Mares, AG, Buzhor, M, Rodriguez-Trujillo, R, Marti, JS, Amir, RJ, Pujals, S, Albertazzi, L, (2021). Real-Time Ratiometric Imaging of Micelles Assembly State in a Microfluidic Cancer-on-a-Chip Acs Applied Bio Materials 4, 669-681

© 2020 American Chemical Society. The performance of supramolecular nanocarriers as drug delivery systems depends on their stability in the complex and dynamic biological media. After administration, nanocarriers are challenged by physiological barriers such as shear stress and proteins present in blood, endothelial wall, extracellular matrix, and eventually cancer cell membrane. While early disassembly will result in a premature drug release, extreme stability of the nanocarriers can lead to poor drug release and low efficiency. Therefore, comprehensive understanding of the stability and assembly state of supramolecular carriers in each stage of delivery is the key factor for the rational design of these systems. One of the main challenges is that current 2D in vitro models do not provide exhaustive information, as they fail to recapitulate the 3D tumor microenvironment. This deficiency in the 2D model complexity is the main reason for the differences observed in vivo when testing the performance of supramolecular nanocarriers. Herein, we present a real-time monitoring study of self-assembled micelles stability and extravasation, combining spectral confocal microscopy and a microfluidic cancer-on-a-chip. The combination of advanced imaging and a reliable 3D model allows tracking of micelle disassembly by following the spectral properties of the amphiphiles in space and time during the crucial steps of drug delivery. The spectrally active micelles were introduced under flow and their position and conformation continuously followed by spectral imaging during the crossing of barriers, revealing the interplay between carrier structure, micellar stability, and extravasation. Integrating the ability of the micelles to change their fluorescent properties when disassembled, spectral confocal imaging and 3D microfluidic tumor blood vessel-on-a-chip resulted in the establishment of a robust testing platform suitable for real-time imaging and evaluation of supramolecular drug delivery carrier's stability.

JTD Keywords: cancer-on-a-chip, complex, delivery, endothelial-cells, in-vitro, microfluidic, model, nanoparticle, penetration, shear-stress, stability, supramolecular, Cancer-on-a-chip, Cell-culture, Micelle, Microfluidic, Nanoparticle, Stability, Supramolecular


Torras, N., García-Díaz, M., Fernández-Majada, V., Martínez, Elena, (2018). Mimicking epithelial tissues in three-dimensional cell culture models Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology 6, Article 197

Epithelial tissues are composed of layers of tightly connected cells shaped into complex three-dimensional (3D) structures such as cysts, tubules, or invaginations. These complex 3D structures are important for organ-specific functions and often create biochemical gradients that guide cell positioning and compartmentalization within the organ. One of the main functions of epithelia is to act as physical barriers that protect the underlying tissues from external insults. In vitro, epithelial barriers are usually mimicked by oversimplified models based on cell lines grown as monolayers on flat surfaces. While useful to answer certain questions, these models cannot fully capture the in vivo organ physiology and often yield poor predictions. In order to progress further in basic and translational research, disease modeling, drug discovery, and regenerative medicine, it is essential to advance the development of new in vitro predictive models of epithelial tissues that are capable of representing the in vivo-like structures and organ functionality more accurately. Here, we review current strategies for obtaining biomimetic systems in the form of advanced in vitro models that allow for more reliable and safer preclinical tests. The current state of the art and potential applications of self-organized cell-based systems, organ-on-a-chip devices that incorporate sensors and monitoring capabilities, as well as microfabrication techniques including bioprinting and photolithography, are discussed. These techniques could be combined to help provide highly predictive drug tests for patient-specific conditions in the near future.

JTD Keywords: 3D cell culture models, Biofabrication, Disease modeling, Drug screening, Epithelial barriers, Microengineered tissues, Organ-on-a-chip, Organoids


Campillo, N., Jorba, I., Schaedel, L., Casals, B., Gozal, D., Farré, R., Almendros, I., Navajas, D., (2016). A novel chip for cyclic stretch and intermittent hypoxia cell exposures mimicking obstructive sleep apnea Frontiers in Physiology 7, Article 319

Intermittent hypoxia (IH), a hallmark of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of OSA-associated morbidities, especially in the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Oxidative stress and inflammation induced by IH are suggested as main contributors of end-organ dysfunction in OSA patients and animal models. Since the molecular mechanisms underlying these in vivo pathological responses remain poorly understood, implementation of experimental in vitro cell-based systems capable of inducing high-frequency IH would be highly desirable. Here, we describe the design, fabrication, and validation of a versatile chip for subjecting cultured cells to fast changes in gas partial pressure and to cyclic stretch. The chip is fabricated with polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) and consists of a cylindrical well-covered by a thin membrane. Cells cultured on top of the membrane can be subjected to fast changes in oxygen concentration (equilibrium time ~6 s). Moreover, cells can be subjected to cyclic stretch at cardiac or respiratory frequencies independently or simultaneously. Rat bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) exposed to IH mimicking OSA and cyclic stretch at cardiac frequencies revealed that hypoxia-inducible factor 1a (HIF-1a) expression was increased in response to both stimuli. Thus, the chip provides a versatile tool for the study of cellular responses to cyclical hypoxia and stretch.

JTD Keywords: Cell stretch, Hypoxia-inducible factor, Intermittent hypoxia, Lab-on-a-chip, Obstructive sleep apnea


del Moral Zamora, B., Azpeitia, J. M. Á, Farrarons, J. C., Català, P. L. M., Corbera, A. H., Juárez, A., Samitier, J., (2014). Towards point-of-use dielectrophoretic methods: A new portable multiphase generator for bacteria concentration Micro and Nanosystems , 6, (2), 71-78

This manuscript presents a portable and low cost electronic system for specific point-of-use dielectrophoresis applications. The system is composed of two main modules: a) a multiphase generator based on a Class E amplifier, which provides 4 sinusoidal signals (0°, 90°, 180°, 270°) at 1 MHz with variable output voltage up to 10 Vpp (Vm) and an output driving current of 1 A; and b) a dielectrophoresis-based microfluidic chip containing two interdigitated electrodes. The system has been validated by concentrating Escherichia coli (E. coli) at 1 MHz while applying a continuous flow of 5 µL/min. The device functionalities were verified under different conditions, achieving an 83% trapping efficiency when counter-phased signals are used.

JTD Keywords: Cell Concentrator, Class E amplifier, Dielectrophoresis, Electronics, Lab-on-a-chip (LOC), Low cost, Portable device


Rigat, L., Elizalde, A., Del Portillo, H. A., Homs-Corbera, A., Samitier, J., (2014). Selective cell culturing step using laminar co-flow to enhance cell culture in splenon-on-a-chip biomimetic platform MicroTAS 2014 18th International Conference on Miniaturized Systems for Chemistry and Life Sciences , CBMS (San Antonio, USA) , 769-771

Constant evolution and improvements on areas such as tissue engineering, microfluidics and nanotechnology have made it possible to partially close the gap between conventional in vitro cell cultures and animal model-based studies. A step forward in this field concerns organ-on-chip technologies, capable of reproducing the most relevant physiological features of an organ in a microfluidic platform. In this work we have exploited the capabilities of laminar co-flow inside our biomimetic platform, the splenon-on-a-chip, in order to enhance cell culture inside its channels to better mimic the spleen's environment. © 14CBMS.

JTD Keywords: Cell culture, Co-flow, Laminar flow, Organ-on-a-chip, Spleen


Rigat, L., Bernabeu, M., Elizalde, A., de Niz, M., Martin-Jaular, L., Fernandez-Becerra, C., Homs-Corbera, A., del Portillo, H. A., Samitier, J., (2014). Human splenon-on-a-chip: Design and validation of a microfluidic model resembling the interstitial slits and the close/fast and open/slow microcirculations IFMBE Proceedings XIII Mediterranean Conference on Medical and Biological Engineering and Computing 2013 (ed. Roa Romero, Laura M.), Springer (Seville, Spain) 41, 884-887

Splenomegaly, albeit variably, is a landmark of malaria infection. Due to technical and ethical constraints, however, the role of the spleen in malaria remains vastly unknown. The spleen is a complex three-dimensional branched vasculature exquisitely adapted to perform different functions containing closed/rapid and open/slow microcirculations, compartmentalized parenchyma (red pulp, white pulp and marginal zone), and sinusoidal structure forcing erythrocytes to squeeze through interstitial slits before reaching venous circulation. Taking into account these features, we have designed and developed a newfangled microfluidic device of a human splenon-on-a-chip (the minimal functional unit of the red pulp facilitating blood-filtering and destruction of malarial-infected red blood cells). Our starting point consisted in translating splenon physiology to the most similar microfluidic network, mimicking the hydrodynamic behavior of the organ, to evaluate and simulate its activities, mechanics and physiological responses and, therefore, enable us to study biological hypotheses. Different physiological features have been translated into engineering elements that can be combined to integrate a biomimetic microfluidic spleen model. The device is fabricated in polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), a biocompatible polymer, irreversibly bonded to glass. Microfluidics analyses have confirmed that 90% of the blood circulates through a fast-flow compartment whereas the remaining 10% circulates through a slow compartment, equivalently to what has been observed in a real spleen. Moreover, erythrocytes and reticulocytes going through the slow-flow compartment squeeze at the end of it through 2μm physical constraints resembling interstitial slits to reach the closed/rapid circulation.

JTD Keywords: Malaria, Microfluidics, Organ-on-a-chip, Spleen


del Moral Zamora, B., Azpeitia, J. M. Á, Farrarons, J. C., Català, P. L. M., Corbera, A. H., Juárez, A., Samitier, J., (2014). Towards point-of-use dielectrophoretic methods: A new portable multiphase generator for bacteria concentration IFMBE Proceedings XIII Mediterranean Conference on Medical and Biological Engineering and Computing 2013 (ed. Roa Romero, Laura M.), Springer International Publishing (London, UK) 41, 856-859

This manuscript presents portable and low cost electronic system for specific point-of-use dielectrophoresis applications. The system is composed of two main modules: a) a multiphase generator based on a Class E amplifier, which provides 4 sinusoidal signals (0º, 90º, 180º, 270º) at 1 MHz with variable output voltage up to 10 Vpp (Vm) and an output driving current of 1 A; and b) a dielectrophoresis-based microfluidic chip containing two interdigitated electrodes. The system has been validated by concentrating Escherichia Coli at 1 MHz while applying a continuous flow of 5 μL/min. Device functionalities were verified under different conditions achieving a 83% trapping efficiency in the best case.

JTD Keywords: Cell Concentrator, Class E amplifier, Dielectrophoresis, Electronics, Lab-on-a-chip (LOC), Low cost, Portable device


Esquivel, Juan Pablo , Castellarnau, Marc , Senn, Tobias , Löchel, Bernd , Samitier, Josep , Sabaté, Neus , (2012). Fuel cell-powered microfluidic platform for lab-on-a-chip applications Lab on a Chip 12, (1), 74-79

The achievement of a higher degree of integration of components – especially micropumps and power sources – is a challenge currently being pursued to obtain portable and totally autonomous microfluidic devices. This paper presents the integration of a micro direct methanol fuel cell (mDMFC) in a microfluidic platform as a smart solution to provide both electrical and pumping power to a Lab-on-a-Chip system. In this system the electric power produced by the fuel cell is available to enable most of the functionalites required by the microfluidic chip, while the generated CO2 from the electrochemical reaction produces a pressure capable of pumping a liquid volume through a microchannel. The control of the fuel cell operating conditions allows regulation of the flow rate of a liquid sample through a microfluidic network. The relation between sample flow rate and the current generated by the fuel cell is practically linear, achieving values in the range of 4–18 mL min 1 while having an available power between 1–4 mW. This permits adjusting the desired flow rate for a given application by controlling the fuel cell output conditions and foresees a fully autonomous analytical Lab-on-a-Chip in which the same device would provide the electrical power to a detection module and at the same time use the CO2 pumping action to flow the required analytes through a particular microfluidic design.

JTD Keywords: micro direct methanol fuel cell (mDMFC), Lab-on-a-chip (LOC), Microfluidic device


Mir, Monica, Martinez-Rodriguez, Sergio, Castillo-Fernandez, Oscar, Homs-Corbera, Antoni, Samitier, Josep, (2011). Electrokinetic techniques applied to electrochemical DNA biosensors Electrophoresis , 32, (8), 811-821

Electrokinetic techniques are contact-free methods currently used in many applications, where precise handling of biological entities, such as cells, bacteria or nucleic acids, is needed. These techniques are based on the effect of electric fields on molecules suspended in a fluid, and the corresponding induced motion, which can be tuned according to some known physical laws and observed behaviours. Increasing interest on the application of such strategies in order to improve the detection of DNA strands has appeared during the recent decades. Classical electrode-based DNA electrochemical biosensors with combined electrokinetic techniques present the advantage of being able to improve the working electrode's bioactive part during their fabrication and also the hybridization yield during the sensor detection phase. This can be achieved by selectively manipulating, driving and directing the molecules towards the electrodes increasing the speed and yield of the floating DNA strands attached to them. On the other hand, this technique can be also used in order to make biosensors reusable, or reconfigurable, by simply inverting its working principle and pulling DNA strands away from the electrodes. Finally, the combination of these techniques with nanostructures, such as nanopores or nanochannels, has recently boosted the appearance of new types of electrochemical sensors that exploit the time-varying position of DNA strands in order to continuously scan these molecules and to detect their properties. This review gives an insight into the main forces involved in DNA electrokinetics and discusses the state of the art and uses of these techniques in recent years.

JTD Keywords: Electrochemical DNA biosensors, Lab-on-a-chip (LOC), Micro-total analysis systems (mu TAS), Nanopore


Rodriguez-Villarreal, A. I., Arundell, M., Carmona, M., Samitier, J., (2010). High flow rate microfluidic device for blood plasma separation using a range of temperatures Lab on a Chip 10, (2), 211-219

A hybrid microfluidic device that uses hydrodynamic forces to separate human plasma from blood cells has been designed and fabricated and the advantageous effects of temperature and flow rates are investigated in this paper. The blood separating device includes an inlet which is reduced by approximately 20 times to a small constrictor channel, which then opens out to a larger output channel with a small lateral channel for the collection of plasma. When tested the device separated plasma from whole blood using a wide range of flow rates, between 50 mu l min(-1) and 200 mu l min(-1), at the higher flow rates injected by hand and at temperatures ranging from 23 degrees C to 50 degrees C, the latter resulting in an increase in the cell-free layer of up to 250%. It was also tested continuously using between 5% and 40% erythrocytes in plasma and whole blood without blocking the channels or hemolysis of the cells. The mean percentage of plasma collected after separation was 3.47% from a sample of 1 ml. The percentage of cells removed from the plasma varied depending on the flow rate used, but at 37 degrees C ranged between 95.4 +/- 1% and 97.05 +/- 05% at 100 mu l min(-1) and 200 mu l min(-1), respectively. The change in temperature also had an effect on the number of cells removed from the plasma which was between 93.5 +/- 0.65% and 97.01 +/- 0.3% at 26.9 degrees C and 37 degrees C, respectively, using a flow rate of 100 mu l min(-1). Due to its ability to operate in a wide range of conditions, it is envisaged that this device can be used in in vitro 'lab on a chip' applications, as well as a hand-held point of care (POC) device.

JTD Keywords: On-a-chip, Cells, Viscosity, Membrane


Mir, M., Homs, A., Samitier, J., (2009). Integrated electrochemical DNA biosensors for lab-on-a-chip devices Electrophoresis , 30, (19), 3386-3397

Analytical devices able to perform accurate and fast automatic DNA detection or sequencing procedures have many potential benefits in the biomedical and environmental fields. The conversion of biological or biochemical responses into quantifiable optical, mechanical or electronic signals is achieved by means of biosensors. Most of these transducing elements can be miniaturized and incorporated into lab-on-a-chip devices, also known as Micro Total Analysis Systems. The use of multiple DNA biosensors integrated in these miniaturized laboratories, which perform several analytical operations at the microscale, has many cost and efficiency advantages. Tiny amounts of reagents and samples are needed and highly sensitive, fast and parallel assays can be done at low cost. A particular type of DNA biosensors are the ones used based on electrochemical principles. These sensors offer several advantages over the popular fluorescence-based detection schemes. The resulting signal is electrical and can be processed by conventional electronics in a very cheap and fast manner. Furthermore, the integration and miniaturization of electrochemical transducers in a microsystem makes easier its fabrication in front of the most common currently used detection method. In this review, different electrochemical DNA biosensors integrated in analytical microfluidic devices are discussed and some early stage commercial products based on this strategy are presented.

JTD Keywords: DNA, Electrochemical DNA biosensors, Electrochemistry, Lab-on-a-chip, Micro Total Analysis systems, Field-effect transistors, Sequence-specific detection, Chemical-analysis systems, Solid-state nanopores, Carbon nanotubes, Microfluidic device, Electrical detection, Hybridization, Molecules, Sensor