Methods for Making Three Dimensional Microfluidic Bioreactor Array

Design for a three-dimensional microfluidic bioreactor array; device allows for culturing of a variety of cell types without contamination.

The Need

Cell culture in a three-dimensional fluidic-flow microenvironment is critical for long-term cell-based assays. Conducting in vitro research offers an accessible, reproducible, and reliable mode of investigation for therapeutic decisions before work is conducted in vivo. However, because of the complexity of the environment in vivo, there is a need for assays that can better mimic the environment ex vivo. Three-dimensional bioreactors better mimic physiological conditions and results are more applicable for understanding complex interactions and cellular behavior in vivo. Continued modification of these systems for research are necessary and minimizing human input is crucial for using them in industrial settings.

The Technology

Researchers at The Ohio State University led by Drs. Yuan Wen and Shang-Tian Yang have designed a microfluidic bioreactor array that acts as a perfusion bioreactor and three dimensional cell culture scaffold. The device can be utilized for dynamic, long-term cell based assays and can be used with different cell types simultaneously. The microfluidic device microenvironment closely represents an in vivo-mimicking condition and eliminates complications from waste in vitro. In addition, micro-pillars span the two layers, allow for mixing within the cell chamber. Serial dilution assays can be conducted using an on-chip method.

Besides cell culture or cell-based assay applications, the three-dimensional scaffold can serve as an immobilization matrix to significantly extend surface areas in the microfluidic device for other biochemical reactions. Other elements of the design are applicable to a variety of biochemical reactions as well.

Commercial Applications

  • Research Tools (e.g. three-dimensional bioreactors)
  • Pharmaceutical research
  • Enzymatic reactions
  • Cell free protein synthesis

Benefits/ Advantages

  • Double-layer assembly
  • Includes
    • set of designs for uniform flow when multiple cell culture chambers
    • cap on a needle for keeping the chamber from being contaminated
    • an on-chip serial dilution method
    • frame-assisted assembly
    • a method of making a fluid port and its sealing for prolonged microfluidic applications with polymer and the method of keeping the device from contamination

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