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Microfluidic devices for cell analysis

Another aspect of my research involves the development of microfluidic cell analysis systems to monitor dynamic cellular responses to external physical, chemical and biological stimuli.

(a) Microfluidic cell migration & wound healing assay

All cell migration and wound healing assays are based on the inherent ability of adherent cells to move into adjacent cell-free areas, thus providing information on cell culture viability, cellular mechanisms and multicellular movements such as tumor invasions. It has been recently recognized that only a better understanding of the complex, dynamic processes that govern cell migration will foster the development of novel therapeutic strategies to combat these diseases. We have developed a lab-on-a-chip capable of mechanically inducing circular cell-free areas within confluent cell layers (see Figure), which will be used for early stage biopharmaceutical screening.

(b) Development of multilayered and membrane integrated lab-on-a-chip systems

We have recently investigated a photo-sensitive thermoset (OSTEMER 322-40) as complementary material to readily fabricate complex multi-layered microdevices for applications in life sciences. Simple, versatile and robust fabrication of multifunctional microfluidics is becoming increasingly important for the development of customized tissue-, organ and body-on-a-chip systems capable of mimicking tissue interfaces and biological barriers. Our current research efforts aim at integration of optical and electrical sensing systems to develop integrated organ-on-a-chip systems.

(c) Microfluidic single cell microarray

The aim of this FFG funded project is the development of microfluidic single cell microarray for medium and high-throughput toxicity screening of nanomaterials based on measuring the cell viability with integrated optical chemical sensors. The premise of the research is the ability to describe the heterogeneity within biological samples. In other words, differences in the ratio of responding and non-responding cells could lead to the development of personalized medical approaches. This project is jointly conducted with the Technical University Graz and Kdg Opticomp.