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Reversible cell trapping in microfluidic channels using hydrogels


Reversible cell trapping in microfluidic channels using hydrogels

Project Description

Until recently cell studies were carried out on cultures which were grown on a planar surface or by keeping the cells suspended in a liquid medium. However the extracellular matrix (ECM) and the 3D environment affect cell-cell interactions, cell growth, adhesion, differentiation, and proliferation. The use of microfluidic technology provides the tools for creating more in-vivo-like environments. In this study we use hydrogels to trap and release cells inside a microfluidic channel, since miniaturization allows us to manipulate small numbers of cells. Hydrogels are used as biomaterials for tissue engineering due to their resemblance to the natural extracellular matrix and their non-cytotoxicity. The porous nature of these gels allows the transport of nutrient and waste. The gel network can also present specific adhesive properties for attachment of cells. By choosing polymers that reversibly undergo gel formation by changes in environmental conditions, such as temperature or ionic factors, cell trapping and release can be triggered externally. We investigate two different approaches to induce gel formation. The first is based on diffusive mixing of alginic acid and calcium ions. Cells trapped in the alginate gel can be released by addition of a calcium chelator. The second approach is based on thermosensitive hydrogels, which gel at the physiological temperature of 37°C, immobilizing cells suspended in the solution.

Faculty Supervisor(s)



    cm2chen    jonas_flueckiger