Studying Cell Signaling in Complex Environments Using Open Microfluidics
Small molecule and protein signals provide a rich vocabulary for cellular communication. To better understand signaling processes in both normal and disease states, we have developed new open microfluidic platforms that accommodate the culture of multiple cell types in microfabricated compartments while allowing soluble factor signaling between cell types. Our microscale culture systems allow a 10- to 500-fold reduction in volume compared to conventional assays, enabling experiments with limited cells from patient samples. Furthermore, our devices are open, pipette accessible, interface with high resolution microscopy, and can be manufactured at scale by injection molding, increasing translation to collaborators in biological and clinical labs without chemistry and engineering expertise. Finally, this talk will highlight recent results using open microfluidic principles to develop novel strategies to 3D print hydrogels for biological and materials science applications.