WASHINGTON, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) -- Scientists in the United States and Singapore have developed an organ-on-chip platform that uses bio-electrical sensors to measure the electrical properties of heart cells in three dimensions.
The study published in the latest edition of Science Advances showed that three-dimensional, self-rolling biosensor arrays were made to coil up over heart cell spheroid tissues to form an "organ-on-e-chip," enabling the researchers to study how cells communicate with each other in a multicellular system such as the heart.
The approach can help develop and assess the efficacy of drugs for disease treatment. It may allow researchers to screen for drugs and toxins directly on a human-like tissue, instead of testing on animal tissue.
Previously, scientists used cells and cultures on two-dimensional surfaces, such as culture dishes. Now, they have developed a way to shrink-wrap sensors around heart cells to extract electrophysiological information from this tissue.
The researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and Nanyang Technological University pinned an array of sensors made of either metallic electrodes or graphene sensors to the chip's surface and then etched off a bottom layer of germanium.
Once the layer is removed, the biosensor array is released from its hold and coils up from the surface in a barrel shaped structure, according to the study.
The researchers then coiled the platform over cardiac spheroids, or elongated organoids made of heart cells, which are about the width of two-to-three human hairs.
The technique could automatically adjust the level of the delicate touch between the sensors and the tissue, so that high quality electric signals can be collected accurately despite external pressure.
"This platform could be used to do research into cardiac tissue regeneration and maturation that potentially can be used to treat damaged tissue after a heart attack," said the paper's lead author Anna Kalmykov at Carnegie Mellon University.