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Lab Chip. 2015 Jun 7;15(11):2379-87. doi: 10.1039/c5lc00239g.

User-friendly 3D bioassays with cell-containing hydrogel modules: narrowing the gap between microfluidic bioassays and clinical end-users' needs.

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Department of Bio and Brain Engineering, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), 291 Daehak-ro, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon 305-701, Republic of Korea.


Cell-containing hydrogel modules as cell-hydrogel microunits for creating a physiologically relevant 3D in vivo-like microenvironment with multiple cell types and unique extracellular matrix (ECM) compositions facilitate long-term cell maintenance and bioassays. To date, there have been many important advances in microfluidic bioassays, which incorporate hydrogel scaffolds into surface-accessible microchambers, driven by the strong demand for the application of spatiotemporally defined biochemical stimuli to construct in vivo-like conditions and perform real-time imaging of cell-matrix interactions. In keeping with the trend of fostering collaborations among biologists, clinicians, and microfluidic engineers, it is essential to create a simpler approach for coupling cell-containing hydrogel modules and an automated bioassay platform in a user-friendly format. In this article, we review recent progress in hydrogel-incorporated microfluidics for long-term cell maintenance and discuss some of the simpler and user-friendly 3D bioassay techniques combined with cell-containing hydrogel modules that can be applied to mutually beneficial collaborations with non-engineers. We anticipate that this modular and user-friendly format interfaced with existing laboratory infrastructure will help address several clinical questions in ways that extend well beyond the current 2D cell-culture systems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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