UTMESA+ InstituteNewsDeveloping connection standards for heart-on-chips

Developing connection standards for heart-on-chips

Heart-on-a-Chip devices are microfluidic devices that enable the replication of a human heart at the microscale. The adoption of these devices has not reached its full potential. For his doctoral thesis, Aisen Gabriel de Sá Vivas developed a fluidic circuit board with standard connections to connect Heart-on-a-Chip devices without tubes. He will defend his thesis on 30 November.

Annually, around 18 million people die from cardiovascular disease.  Treatment of these diseases is difficult; cardiac cells are unable to replicate. Heart-on-a-chip models can play an important role in the pre-clinical development of drugs. However, setting up cell cultures on such systems can be complex. The microscale of these devices makes the environment of the cells highly susceptible to changes. Connecting all the microfluidic tubing (microfluidic interfacing) is one of the major hurdles that all Organs-on-Chips face.

Fluidic Circuit Board

Aisen Gabriel de Sá Vivas developed a fluidic circuit board to overcome this hurdle. “I adopted ISO 22916 and industrial standard connections for the different microfluidic components”, says Vivas. These components would otherwise need to be connected with tubing but with Vivas’ fluidic circuit board makes these tubes redundant. Vivas: “Organ-on-Chip devices can really benefit from adopting connection standards.”

Realistic microenvironment

He demonstrated his device with a novel heart-on-a-chip device he developed. For this heart-on-a-chip device, he combined cardiac cells and endothelial cells differentiated from human-derived pluripotent stem cells. The cells can be electrically stimulated with a special lid of 3D-printed electrodes. This allows for more realistic contraction of the heart tissues and therefore creates a more realistic microenvironment for drug testing.

More information

Aisen Gabriel de Sá Vivas was a PhD candidate in the research group Biomedical and Environmental Sensorsystems (BIOS; Faculty of EEMCS). His supervisors were Prof Dr Robert Passier and Prof Dr Ir Alfred van den Berg (both part of MESA+). Vivas will defend his PhD dissertation, ‘Microfluidic and Microengineered Systems for Automated Cardiac Organ-on-a-Chip Tissue Culture’ on 30 November. His thesis can be found here. He currently works for the life science tools company LUMICKS.

K.W. Wesselink - Schram MSc (Kees)
Science Communication Officer (available Mon-Fri)