Placenta-on-a-chip: Developing an in-vitro platform to mimic substance transport

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2015-12-01
Authors
Meis, Catherine
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Altmetrics
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Materials Science and Engineering
Abstract

Organ-on-a-chip technology utilizes microfluidics to create an environment for cell culture that represents basic organ function. These dynamic cell culture models are promising tools for improving drug testing methods and investigating how cells respond to a variety of stimuli. At the time of the project inception, no published work was available on applying organ-on-a-chip technology to develop an in-vitro model for the placenta, an important organ. The placenta’s main function is to transport nutrients, waste and other substances between the mother and developing fetus. A microfluidic platform to replicate the placental barrier was designed based on studying other organ-on-a-chip devices. The microfluidic chip was produced utilizing standard microfabrication techniques. The next step is to successfully culture cells inside the device and validate the design. We anticipate the placenta-on-a-chip can ultimately be used to better understand the exchange of substances between maternal and fetal bloodstreams and determine the risks of certain drugs or chemicals to a developing baby.

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