Tissues in the body are wonderfully organized, with specific arrangements of cells, extracellular matrix, secreted molecules, and fluid flow that synergize that create emergent functions. However, many methods for in vitro cell analysis rely on cell cultures with minimal or no spatial organization, making it difficult to reproduce the dynamics found in vivo.
In this talk, I will introduce the features of working with live, intact samples of ex vivo tissue as a system that is complementary to cell culture, particularly when combined with microfluidics to control the tissue microenvironment. I will give examples of cutting edge devices designed to model local molecular movement through tissue and multi-organ interactions, including a brief case study of a microfluidic model of tumor-induced immunosuppression. Together with methods for real-time imaging and analysis, these technologies offer a host of exciting opportunities to model drug delivery and disease.
1. What are the benefits and limitations of studying live tissue in a microfluidic device?
2. How can microfluidics be used to model local drug delivery and multi-tissue communication ex vivo?