Integrating silicon microchip technology with a network of tiny fluid channels, some thinner than a human hair, researchers at The Johns Hopkins University have developed a thumb-size micro-incubator to culture living cells for lab tests.
In a recent edition of the journal IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems, the Johns Hopkins researchers reported that they had successfully used the micro-incubator to culture baby hamster kidney cells over a three-day period. They said their system represents a significant advance over traditional incubation equipment that has been used in biology labs for the past 100 years.
We dont believe anyone has made a system like this that can culture cells over a period of days autonomously, said Jennifer Blain Christen, lead author of the journal article. Once its set up, you can just walk away.
The incubators microchannels, fabricated in soft silicone polymer material, allow researchers to easily insert and guide cells and nutrients during experiments, while the computer-controlled electronics keep the cells at the precise temperature that enables them to multiply and thrive. The tiny incubators transparent design makes it easy to view the cells through a microscope or camera equipment without disrupting the conditions that help the cells to flourish.
Blain Christen spent the past three years working on the device as the focus of her doctoral dissertation in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering. She received her degree in May and has continued to fine-tune the device while working as a postdoctoral fellow.
Andreas G. Andreou, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering who served as Blain Christens doctoral adviser, said, This device represents a unique blend of two technologies, and we believe it will have a great impact on biology lab testing and research. Andreou was co-
|Contact: Phil Sneiderman|
Johns Hopkins University