There is a strong need for more predictive cellular assays that better represent the tissue that is under investigation. For airway epithelia such a model exists, and uses primary cells grown at an air liquid interface (ALI). A key technical hurdle has been the large cell numbers that are needed to run these assays using cell culture inserts. This method is also very limited with respect to microscopic interrogation. In this proposal we intend to develop a microchamber that will enable highly miniaturized airway epithelial assays. This will dramatically increase the number of data points that can be gleaned from a limited set of primary cells. Furthermore, these devices will allow high quality high content imaging to be performed, which will provide new levels of information including cilia beat frequency. To this end, the entire device will be made of optical quality thermoplastics. The device consists of very small membrane culturing area with a microchannel below. The device is operated simply by placing and removing droplets, so can be used with a handheld pipettor as well as automated liquid handling robotics. We anticipate this device will significantly enhance research regarding in vitro models of airways disease. In addition, other models such as skin and blood brain barrier should be readily adapted to this platform.
Cellular assays that are more predictive are greatly needed in biomedical research. In this proposal we plan to develop and commercialize a microchannel array device that will enable more physiologically relevant cellular assays for airways diseases such as cystic fibrosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.