Scientists are trying to find ways to tailor medicine to individual patients. Now, researchers at Illinois Institute of Technology are developing technology to harvest fat cells from a patient and grow them outside of the body in a microfluidic chip. Obesity patients often have other medical problems like diabetes; the chip would enable doctors to test therapeutics on those cells, to quickly find the best one for the patient without taking risks.
“Microfluidic chips mimic the capillaries of the body,” said Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering Abhinav Bhushan. “So when you place cells into this environment, they behave like normal fat cells for over three weeks. During this time, our platform allows us to study the differentiation of precursor cells into mature adipose, which is necessary to study the long-term effects of drug molecules on cellular signals and responses.”
This work, reported in Biotechnology & Bioengineering by graduate student Nida Tanataweethum and collaborators, could help replace animal models.
Source: Illinois Tech University News