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by Keyword: On-a-chip


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Torras, N., García-Díaz, M., Fernández-Majada, V., Martínez, E., (2018). Mimicking epithelial tissues in three-dimensional cell culture models Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology 6, Article 197

Epithelial tissues are composed of layers of tightly connected cells shaped into complex three-dimensional (3D) structures such as cysts, tubules, or invaginations. These complex 3D structures are important for organ-specific functions and often create biochemical gradients that guide cell positioning and compartmentalization within the organ. One of the main functions of epithelia is to act as physical barriers that protect the underlying tissues from external insults. In vitro, epithelial barriers are usually mimicked by oversimplified models based on cell lines grown as monolayers on flat surfaces. While useful to answer certain questions, these models cannot fully capture the in vivo organ physiology and often yield poor predictions. In order to progress further in basic and translational research, disease modeling, drug discovery, and regenerative medicine, it is essential to advance the development of new in vitro predictive models of epithelial tissues that are capable of representing the in vivo-like structures and organ functionality more accurately. Here, we review current strategies for obtaining biomimetic systems in the form of advanced in vitro models that allow for more reliable and safer preclinical tests. The current state of the art and potential applications of self-organized cell-based systems, organ-on-a-chip devices that incorporate sensors and monitoring capabilities, as well as microfabrication techniques including bioprinting and photolithography, are discussed. These techniques could be combined to help provide highly predictive drug tests for patient-specific conditions in the near future.

Keywords: 3D cell culture models, Biofabrication, Disease modeling, Drug screening, Epithelial barriers, Microengineered tissues, Organ-on-a-chip, Organoids


Campillo, N., Jorba, I., Schaedel, L., Casals, B., Gozal, D., Farré, R., Almendros, I., Navajas, D., (2016). A novel chip for cyclic stretch and intermittent hypoxia cell exposures mimicking obstructive sleep apnea Frontiers in Physiology 7, Article 319

Intermittent hypoxia (IH), a hallmark of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of OSA-associated morbidities, especially in the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Oxidative stress and inflammation induced by IH are suggested as main contributors of end-organ dysfunction in OSA patients and animal models. Since the molecular mechanisms underlying these in vivo pathological responses remain poorly understood, implementation of experimental in vitro cell-based systems capable of inducing high-frequency IH would be highly desirable. Here, we describe the design, fabrication, and validation of a versatile chip for subjecting cultured cells to fast changes in gas partial pressure and to cyclic stretch. The chip is fabricated with polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) and consists of a cylindrical well-covered by a thin membrane. Cells cultured on top of the membrane can be subjected to fast changes in oxygen concentration (equilibrium time ~6 s). Moreover, cells can be subjected to cyclic stretch at cardiac or respiratory frequencies independently or simultaneously. Rat bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) exposed to IH mimicking OSA and cyclic stretch at cardiac frequencies revealed that hypoxia-inducible factor 1a (HIF-1a) expression was increased in response to both stimuli. Thus, the chip provides a versatile tool for the study of cellular responses to cyclical hypoxia and stretch.

Keywords: Cell stretch, Hypoxia-inducible factor, Intermittent hypoxia, Lab-on-a-chip, Obstructive sleep apnea


del Moral Zamora, B., Azpeitia, J. M. Á, Farrarons, J. C., Català, P. L. M., Corbera, A. H., Juárez, A., Samitier, J., (2014). Towards point-of-use dielectrophoretic methods: A new portable multiphase generator for bacteria concentration Micro and Nanosystems , 6, (2), 71-78

This manuscript presents a portable and low cost electronic system for specific point-of-use dielectrophoresis applications. The system is composed of two main modules: a) a multiphase generator based on a Class E amplifier, which provides 4 sinusoidal signals (0°, 90°, 180°, 270°) at 1 MHz with variable output voltage up to 10 Vpp (Vm) and an output driving current of 1 A; and b) a dielectrophoresis-based microfluidic chip containing two interdigitated electrodes. The system has been validated by concentrating Escherichia coli (E. coli) at 1 MHz while applying a continuous flow of 5 µL/min. The device functionalities were verified under different conditions, achieving an 83% trapping efficiency when counter-phased signals are used.

Keywords: Cell Concentrator, Class E amplifier, Dielectrophoresis, Electronics, Lab-on-a-chip (LOC), Low cost, Portable device


Rigat, L., Elizalde, A., Del Portillo, H. A., Homs-Corbera, A., Samitier, J., (2014). Selective cell culturing step using laminar co-flow to enhance cell culture in splenon-on-a-chip biomimetic platform MicroTAS 2014 18th International Conference on Miniaturized Systems for Chemistry and Life Sciences , CBMS (San Antonio, USA) , 769-771

Constant evolution and improvements on areas such as tissue engineering, microfluidics and nanotechnology have made it possible to partially close the gap between conventional in vitro cell cultures and animal model-based studies. A step forward in this field concerns organ-on-chip technologies, capable of reproducing the most relevant physiological features of an organ in a microfluidic platform. In this work we have exploited the capabilities of laminar co-flow inside our biomimetic platform, the splenon-on-a-chip, in order to enhance cell culture inside its channels to better mimic the spleen's environment. © 14CBMS.

Keywords: Cell culture, Co-flow, Laminar flow, Organ-on-a-chip, Spleen


Rigat, L., Bernabeu, M., Elizalde, A., de Niz, M., Martin-Jaular, L., Fernandez-Becerra, C., Homs-Corbera, A., del Portillo, H. A., Samitier, J., (2014). Human splenon-on-a-chip: Design and validation of a microfluidic model resembling the interstitial slits and the close/fast and open/slow microcirculations IFMBE Proceedings XIII Mediterranean Conference on Medical and Biological Engineering and Computing 2013 (ed. Roa Romero, Laura M.), Springer (Seville, Spain) 41, 884-887

Splenomegaly, albeit variably, is a landmark of malaria infection. Due to technical and ethical constraints, however, the role of the spleen in malaria remains vastly unknown. The spleen is a complex three-dimensional branched vasculature exquisitely adapted to perform different functions containing closed/rapid and open/slow microcirculations, compartmentalized parenchyma (red pulp, white pulp and marginal zone), and sinusoidal structure forcing erythrocytes to squeeze through interstitial slits before reaching venous circulation. Taking into account these features, we have designed and developed a newfangled microfluidic device of a human splenon-on-a-chip (the minimal functional unit of the red pulp facilitating blood-filtering and destruction of malarial-infected red blood cells). Our starting point consisted in translating splenon physiology to the most similar microfluidic network, mimicking the hydrodynamic behavior of the organ, to evaluate and simulate its activities, mechanics and physiological responses and, therefore, enable us to study biological hypotheses. Different physiological features have been translated into engineering elements that can be combined to integrate a biomimetic microfluidic spleen model. The device is fabricated in polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), a biocompatible polymer, irreversibly bonded to glass. Microfluidics analyses have confirmed that 90% of the blood circulates through a fast-flow compartment whereas the remaining 10% circulates through a slow compartment, equivalently to what has been observed in a real spleen. Moreover, erythrocytes and reticulocytes going through the slow-flow compartment squeeze at the end of it through 2μm physical constraints resembling interstitial slits to reach the closed/rapid circulation.

Keywords: Malaria, Microfluidics, Organ-on-a-chip, Spleen


del Moral Zamora, B., Azpeitia, J. M. Á, Farrarons, J. C., Català, P. L. M., Corbera, A. H., Juárez, A., Samitier, J., (2014). Towards point-of-use dielectrophoretic methods: A new portable multiphase generator for bacteria concentration IFMBE Proceedings XIII Mediterranean Conference on Medical and Biological Engineering and Computing 2013 (ed. Roa Romero, Laura M.), Springer International Publishing (London, UK) 41, 856-859

This manuscript presents portable and low cost electronic system for specific point-of-use dielectrophoresis applications. The system is composed of two main modules: a) a multiphase generator based on a Class E amplifier, which provides 4 sinusoidal signals (0º, 90º, 180º, 270º) at 1 MHz with variable output voltage up to 10 Vpp (Vm) and an output driving current of 1 A; and b) a dielectrophoresis-based microfluidic chip containing two interdigitated electrodes. The system has been validated by concentrating Escherichia Coli at 1 MHz while applying a continuous flow of 5 μL/min. Device functionalities were verified under different conditions achieving a 83% trapping efficiency in the best case.

Keywords: Cell Concentrator, Class E amplifier, Dielectrophoresis, Electronics, Lab-on-a-chip (LOC), Low cost, Portable device


Esquivel, Juan Pablo , Castellarnau, Marc , Senn, Tobias , Löchel, Bernd , Samitier, Josep , Sabaté, Neus , (2012). Fuel cell-powered microfluidic platform for lab-on-a-chip applications Lab on a Chip 12, (1), 74-79

The achievement of a higher degree of integration of components – especially micropumps and power sources – is a challenge currently being pursued to obtain portable and totally autonomous microfluidic devices. This paper presents the integration of a micro direct methanol fuel cell (mDMFC) in a microfluidic platform as a smart solution to provide both electrical and pumping power to a Lab-on-a-Chip system. In this system the electric power produced by the fuel cell is available to enable most of the functionalites required by the microfluidic chip, while the generated CO2 from the electrochemical reaction produces a pressure capable of pumping a liquid volume through a microchannel. The control of the fuel cell operating conditions allows regulation of the flow rate of a liquid sample through a microfluidic network. The relation between sample flow rate and the current generated by the fuel cell is practically linear, achieving values in the range of 4–18 mL min 1 while having an available power between 1–4 mW. This permits adjusting the desired flow rate for a given application by controlling the fuel cell output conditions and foresees a fully autonomous analytical Lab-on-a-Chip in which the same device would provide the electrical power to a detection module and at the same time use the CO2 pumping action to flow the required analytes through a particular microfluidic design.

Keywords: micro direct methanol fuel cell (mDMFC), Lab-on-a-chip (LOC), Microfluidic device


Mir, Monica, Martinez-Rodriguez, Sergio, Castillo-Fernandez, Oscar, Homs-Corbera, Antoni, Samitier, Josep, (2011). Electrokinetic techniques applied to electrochemical DNA biosensors Electrophoresis , 32, (8), 811-821

Electrokinetic techniques are contact-free methods currently used in many applications, where precise handling of biological entities, such as cells, bacteria or nucleic acids, is needed. These techniques are based on the effect of electric fields on molecules suspended in a fluid, and the corresponding induced motion, which can be tuned according to some known physical laws and observed behaviours. Increasing interest on the application of such strategies in order to improve the detection of DNA strands has appeared during the recent decades. Classical electrode-based DNA electrochemical biosensors with combined electrokinetic techniques present the advantage of being able to improve the working electrode's bioactive part during their fabrication and also the hybridization yield during the sensor detection phase. This can be achieved by selectively manipulating, driving and directing the molecules towards the electrodes increasing the speed and yield of the floating DNA strands attached to them. On the other hand, this technique can be also used in order to make biosensors reusable, or reconfigurable, by simply inverting its working principle and pulling DNA strands away from the electrodes. Finally, the combination of these techniques with nanostructures, such as nanopores or nanochannels, has recently boosted the appearance of new types of electrochemical sensors that exploit the time-varying position of DNA strands in order to continuously scan these molecules and to detect their properties. This review gives an insight into the main forces involved in DNA electrokinetics and discusses the state of the art and uses of these techniques in recent years.

Keywords: Electrochemical DNA biosensors, Lab-on-a-chip (LOC), Micro-total analysis systems (mu TAS), Nanopore


Rodriguez-Villarreal, A. I., Arundell, M., Carmona, M., Samitier, J., (2010). High flow rate microfluidic device for blood plasma separation using a range of temperatures Lab on a Chip 10, (2), 211-219

A hybrid microfluidic device that uses hydrodynamic forces to separate human plasma from blood cells has been designed and fabricated and the advantageous effects of temperature and flow rates are investigated in this paper. The blood separating device includes an inlet which is reduced by approximately 20 times to a small constrictor channel, which then opens out to a larger output channel with a small lateral channel for the collection of plasma. When tested the device separated plasma from whole blood using a wide range of flow rates, between 50 mu l min(-1) and 200 mu l min(-1), at the higher flow rates injected by hand and at temperatures ranging from 23 degrees C to 50 degrees C, the latter resulting in an increase in the cell-free layer of up to 250%. It was also tested continuously using between 5% and 40% erythrocytes in plasma and whole blood without blocking the channels or hemolysis of the cells. The mean percentage of plasma collected after separation was 3.47% from a sample of 1 ml. The percentage of cells removed from the plasma varied depending on the flow rate used, but at 37 degrees C ranged between 95.4 +/- 1% and 97.05 +/- 05% at 100 mu l min(-1) and 200 mu l min(-1), respectively. The change in temperature also had an effect on the number of cells removed from the plasma which was between 93.5 +/- 0.65% and 97.01 +/- 0.3% at 26.9 degrees C and 37 degrees C, respectively, using a flow rate of 100 mu l min(-1). Due to its ability to operate in a wide range of conditions, it is envisaged that this device can be used in in vitro 'lab on a chip' applications, as well as a hand-held point of care (POC) device.

Keywords: On-a-chip, Cells, Viscosity, Membrane


Mir, M., Homs, A., Samitier, J., (2009). Integrated electrochemical DNA biosensors for lab-on-a-chip devices Electrophoresis , 30, (19), 3386-3397

Analytical devices able to perform accurate and fast automatic DNA detection or sequencing procedures have many potential benefits in the biomedical and environmental fields. The conversion of biological or biochemical responses into quantifiable optical, mechanical or electronic signals is achieved by means of biosensors. Most of these transducing elements can be miniaturized and incorporated into lab-on-a-chip devices, also known as Micro Total Analysis Systems. The use of multiple DNA biosensors integrated in these miniaturized laboratories, which perform several analytical operations at the microscale, has many cost and efficiency advantages. Tiny amounts of reagents and samples are needed and highly sensitive, fast and parallel assays can be done at low cost. A particular type of DNA biosensors are the ones used based on electrochemical principles. These sensors offer several advantages over the popular fluorescence-based detection schemes. The resulting signal is electrical and can be processed by conventional electronics in a very cheap and fast manner. Furthermore, the integration and miniaturization of electrochemical transducers in a microsystem makes easier its fabrication in front of the most common currently used detection method. In this review, different electrochemical DNA biosensors integrated in analytical microfluidic devices are discussed and some early stage commercial products based on this strategy are presented.

Keywords: DNA, Electrochemical DNA biosensors, Electrochemistry, Lab-on-a-chip, Micro Total Analysis systems, Field-effect transistors, Sequence-specific detection, Chemical-analysis systems, Solid-state nanopores, Carbon nanotubes, Microfluidic device, Electrical detection, Hybridization, Molecules, Sensor