The research findings have been published in the peer-reviewed international journal Biomicrofluidics. The Research Team included Ikram Khan, Prof. Anil Prabhakar from IIT Madras and Chloe Delepine, Hayley Tsang, Vincent Pham, and Prof. Mriganka Sur from MIT. The technology is now a patent of the developer research team which is now exploring the feasibility of international collaborations.
“Cell culture is one of the fundamental steps in validation of the human organ model, whether it may be a pre-clinical study for Covid-19, cancer medicine discovery or any medicine to be used on humans. There is an open challenge in growing cells for long durations and studying them in real-time to gain a better understanding of the effects of medicine,” said the release by scientists.
“The present cell culture protocols involve separate chambers for incubation and imaging, requiring that cells are physically transferred to the imaging chamber. However, this poses the risk of false results and chances for contamination,” added the release.
The new invention helps provide long-term human brain cells culture and real-time imaging by uninterrupted cell growth through a 3D printed micro-incubator and imaging chamber developed into a single palm-sized platform.
Commenting on the research, Prof. Anil Prabhakar, Department of Electrical Engineering, IIT Madras said, “The design from this research is a scalable microfluidic technology in which copies of an organoid can be grown simultaneously in different wells, for studies in basic and applied science. This bioreactor can be completely automated with different protocols, and used for drug discovery, thus drastically reducing labour costs, errors, and time to market. Different environmental sensors can be combined with this micro-incubator and our device fits with most of the microscopes for live-cell imaging.”
Further elaborating on the applications of this technology, Ikram Khan S.I., IIT Madras Alum and CEO of ISMO Bio-Photonics, an IIT Madras-incubated startup, said, “Considering the importance of our micro-incubator in the field of healthcare and in the pharmaceutical industry, we are working through ISMO Bio-Photonics to develop a user-friendly minimum viable product, and raising seed grants for its further development. This will enable biologists or laboratory technicians to operate, control and monitor the growth of organoids with a user-friendly system powered by Artificial Intelligence-assisted automated cell culture protocols.”
Center for Computational Brain Research (CCBR) at IIT Madras provided funding and support to the project and Sur’s Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), provided the necessary guidance to the researchers.