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Microfluidic device for high-throughput three-dimensional culture, mechanical stimulation and drug screening of stem cells

Microfluidic device for high-throughput three-dimensional culture, mechanical stimulation and drug screening of stem cells


Adult stem cells are the engines that drive tissue dynamics. Tissue homeostasis and regeneration are critically dependent on their self-renewal capability and differentiation to replenish cells of a tissue throughout life. Due to these unique properties, adult stem cells hold enormous potential for the treatment of various diseases. Moreover, recent findings suggest that cells with stem cell-like properties maintain some cancers including acute leukaemia, brain and breast cancers. Adult stem cell regulation is still poorly understood and significant hurdles need to be overcome before stem cells can be used efficiently and safely in the clinic. One of the greatest challenges is controlling stem cell behaviour outside of their natural microenvironment, as this would allow expanding them to sufficient numbers or differentiating them in a well-defined manner. Cell fate is determined by biochemical and physico-chemical factors, the physical environment around them (extracellular matrix) and mechanical stimuli. Recreating cell microenvironments artificially is a crucial aspect of stem cell research which has been tackled with considerable success using synthetic hydrogels. We propose the development of a microfluidic platform for simultaneous culture inside hydrogels, mechanical stimulation and drug screening of stem cells. Combining microfluidic technology with the in situ synthesis of hydrogels, we plan to create an efficient miniaturized cell microenvironment suitable for mechanical stimulation. The miniaturization of the culture will reduce the number of cells needed per experiment, a critical issue in stem cell research. The inclusion of microfluidic control modules will provide advanced fluidic handling and automation and will enable high-throughput and drug screening studies. We will use this platform study myofiber formation from muscle progenitor cells and induced pluripotent stem cells towards the development of therapies for muscle dystrophy.
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Batiment Ce 3316 Station 1
1015 Lausanne


Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 173 565,20

Administrative Contact

Sebastian Maerkl (Prof.)

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 252457


Closed project

  • Start date

    1 April 2010

  • End date

    31 March 2012

Funded under:


  • Overall budget:

    € 173 565,20

  • EU contribution

    € 173 565,20

Coordinated by: