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Precision micromechanical lever for next-generation cell culture systems

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MicroMechCell (Precision micromechanical lever for next-generation cell culture systems)

Reporting period: 2017-09-15 to 2018-09-14

• What is the problem/issue being addressed?
Cancer is now the leading cause of mortality in industrialized countries, causing the death of 1.75 million deaths Europeans in 2012. However, many aspects of this disease are still poorly understood and cannot be studied in the lab. The intra-tumour environment is a highly rigid 3-D environment under high pressure, but there is currently no way to mimic these conditions in the lab. In addition to the intra-tumour environment, evidence is increasing that confinement and cell strain is crucial to many cell processes, such as mesenchymal-to-amoeboid transition, leukocyte maturation and differentiation and stem cell differentiation (Raab et al, Science 2016). Furthermore, new technologies such as organ-on-a-chip rely on mimicking in vivo conditions and systems to provide confinement or repetitive strain on cells are crucial for these technologies. There is thus a wide range of researchers for whom it is becoming essential to culture cells under confinement. However, such a commercial system is not yet available.
• Why is it important for society?
With these type of innovative devices, both academic and industry will be given access to a new technology that will enable them to have new read outs, more representative of the real cell environment, when studying certain pathologies. These will thus affect the time and cost to develop new drugs, ultimately reducing them both.
• What are the overall objectives?
The overall goal of this project is to develop a device for mechanical confinement of cells, which is ready to be commercialized.
During the course of this project, the device for confinement was developed. In this aim, several tasks were performed, as the definition of bill of specifications & market return, the design and test of the prototype and finally market tests by early adopters.

The prototype for cell confinement passed by several stages of development and was improved systematically based on the test carried out along the course of the project. The result is a prototype ready for commercialization.
The goals of the project were reached, leading to the development of a prototype ready to enter the commercialization stage. As stated before, this tool offers researchers a new way to study pathologies via read outs that were not available before.
Picture of the device