At Applied Stem Cell Technologies we develop technology with which we design, optimize, and characterize stem cells and stem cell-derived tissues. Our developed stem cell technologies are applied in multiple internal and external collaborative projects, and together with our partners, we work hard to ensure that our technology has a true impact on understanding human physiology and on treating and preventing diseases.
Cells of the human body do not act as isolated entities of unorganized matter. Even though cells cannot be visualized with the naked eye, they are capable of stowing away about 2 meters of genetic material and regulate hundreds of processes simultaneously with immaculate speed and precision. At a tiny micrometer level, they are highly organized, with separate functional entities called organelles, and they even contain a refined ‘waste disposal system’. Cells don’t live in isolation. Instead, they are highly interactive and communicate intensively and continuously with neighboring cells, and even with cells as remote as a meter away from them. Apart from only communicating, cells also regulate their responses to these signals in an orchestrated manner. In my team we share the excitement of the prospect of understanding the intricacies of these highly evolved cellular communication systems. The Cellular Signaling and Communication Lab is headed by associate professor Kerensa Broersen.
We perform functional characterization of stem cells and stem cell-derived tissues with high throughput imaging and other advanced physiological assays.
We develop organs-on-chips, which are plastic microdevices the size of a USB-stick with microchannels and small chambers that are filled with liquid. The devices contain multiple human cell types which are cultured in a technologically controlled microenvironment that artificially mimics aspects of the human body like morphology, movement, flow, electrical stimuli and liquid gradients. The resulting device emulates human organ functions and can be used to study biomedical phenomena.
The unique aspect of organs-on-chips is that they function by integrating biology and technology in a single microdevice. In a lung-on-a-chip, human lung cells, synthetic membranes and microactuators integrate to form a device that moves, breathes, contains a flowing blood substitute, and that exhibits a functional immune response. The technical-biological integration produces ‘living microsystems’ that generate complex, high-level data that can normally only be produced in living animals.
By using stem cell-derived tissue to build ‘personalized organs-on-chips’, we can study health and disease in models that are relevant for particular patients or other groups of people.
The following AST projects focus on organ-on-chip technology: