Talk: From microfluidic technology to organ-on-a-chip platforms: new opportunities to develop physiologically relevant in vitro models
Speaker: Dr. Séverine Le Gac (University of Twente, The Netherlands)
Date: May 11th, 2018
Abstract: Lab-on-a-chip technology (LOC) or microfluidics has reached a mature state and is currently very popular in the field of life sciences, due to the numerous advantages it offers. Microfluidic devices enable faster, more sensitive and reproducible analysis using lower amounts of reagents. Furthermore, microfluidics lends itself well to the realization of complex and integrated platforms. Originally, microfluidic developments have been driven by the field of bioanalysis. However, applications of LOC have recently been diversified and extended to cellular investigations, for which LOC presents additional advantages such as an in vivo-like and tunable microenvironment, dynamic culture, and a unique capability to couple cell culture, treatment and analysis on one single platform. In my presentation I will particularly discuss two areas of applications of the so-called organ-on-a-chip platforms: assisted reproductive technologies (ART) and cancer research (drug screening).
In the field of ART, LOC technology can offer alternative approaches for the in vitro steps of the treatment, remedying thereby currently encountered issues. In our group, we particularly focus on two specific in vitro steps, which are the (i) pre-implantation in vitro culture of the embryos, and (ii) their characterization with the purposes to both monitor their growth and identify embryos with the highest developmental competence before transfer.
For drug screening, and to evaluate the penetration and efficiency of nanomedicines, sophisticated and biomimetic in vitro models are required that incorporate essential features of the tumor microenvironment. In that contact, we are developing a tumor-on-a-chip device. Our tumor-on-a-chip platforms rely on the use of 3D tumor models (spheroid) prepared from either a mono-culture (breast tumor cells) or co-culture (breast tumor cells and fibroblasts), to yield a model closer to the in vivo situation.
Bio: Séverine Le Gac received her Engineer degree in chemistry (specialization biology) from the ESPCI (Paris, France) and her DEA (MSc equivalent; interface biology/chemistry) from the MNHN (Paris, France) in 2000. In 2004, she obtained her PhD degree cum laude in life sciences from the university of Lille 1 (Lille, France) for the development of microfluidic systems for proteomic analysis by mass spectrometry. For this work she conducted in the group of Dr. Rolando, she was attributed the PhD prize of the French Society for Mass Spectrometry in 2005. After a 2-months stay in the lab of Prof. Baba in Japan, she started as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Twente, at the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology and the BIOS, Lab-on-a-Chip Group under the supervision of Prof. van den Berg. After a 3-year post-doctoral stay, she was offered a tenure-track position (assistant professor) in the same group and the same institute. In 2012, she was appointed Program Director for the topic “Innovative Nanotechnology for Medicine” at the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology and in 2013, she obtained tenure. Currently, Dr. Le Gac is an Associate Professor at the University of Twente and she is leading a team called “Applied Microfluidics for BioEngineering Research – AMBER” which is part of the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology and the MIRA Institute for Biomedical Engineering and Technical Medicine. Her research interests focus on the use of microfluidic devices for biological and medical applications, including experimentation on cell membrane models and ion channels, single cell analysis, organ-on-a-chip platform, and assisted reproductive technologies.