Beyond PDMS: New Integration Strategies for Barrier-on-Chip Systems
Organ-on-Chip systems combine advances in microfluidics with biomimetic cell culture to emulate human organs or organ systems. They promise to accelerate pharmaceutical development by providing more human-like biological function than traditional cell culture or animal models. They also allow us to study cellular processes that are simply not accessible in live humans. Most Organs-on-Chips, however, rely on poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS)-based microfluidics, which introduces two critical limitations: PDMS ad- and absorbs small molecules such as drugs, leading to poor control over drug concentrations; and integration with other materials – such as required for sensors – adds significant complexity in fabrication.
With a particular focus on Barrier-on-Chip systems (modeling the gut or the blood-brain barrier), I will present two strategies our lab is pursuing to supersede PDMS. This allows us to simplify chip assembly and to integrate sensors for continuous monitoring of barrier integrity. This type of on-line sensing is critical to gain insight into dynamic biological processes, such as barrier breakdown with nitrosative stress and its prevention using antioxidants. Simple assembly, especially when combined with scalability, more broadly also means that Barriers-on-Chips can be adopted more widely in research labs around the world, opening up the field and further accelerating research.
Biography Thomas E. Winkler
Dr. Thomas E. Winkler is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Research Fellow in the Division of Micro- and Nanosystems at Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan, Stockholm, Sweden. He received his Diplomingenieur (B.Sc./M.Sc.) in biophysics and nanotechnology in 2011 from the Johannes Kepler Universität Linz, Austria. He went on to the University of Maryland at College Park, USA, for a Ph.D. in bioengineering (2017), where he worked on microsystems integration for neuropsychiatric disorders.
At KTH, he is working with other researchers in Prof. Anna Herland’s in-vitro neural systems lab on microphysiological models of human organ systems, especially the neurovascular unit (also known as the blood brain barrier). The lab focuses on induced pluripotent stem cells for superior biological function, integrated sensors for continuous monitoring of biological processes, and novel materials to facilitate such integration. Thomas’ broader research interests include general microsystems approaches for sensing and manipulation of cells, with a focus on neuropsychiatric disorders and nitrosative stress.
Day: Tuesday December 10th
Where: Health & Life science
Time: 11:20h – 11:50h