Engineering organs for benchtop evaluation is a significant area of focus in the biomedical engineering community. The capacity to intimately characterize the influence of various parameters on organ function and viability, as well as its impact on “downstream” organs, would not only advance scientific knowledge, but minimize animal research and improve the safety and efficacy of potential new drugs. In the field of diabetes, a benchtop platform that supports islet function and viability long-term is a significant need, as current culturing techniques are unable to sustain islets longer than a few days. Our collaborative team has published on the development of such an “Islet-on-a-Chip”.
Following the establishment of this platform, we are now transitioning to using this chip for the study of Type 1 Diabetes. Using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC), we can generate isogenic cell lines of beta cells, as well as the immune cell repertoire. The co-culture of these cells in a 3-D microfluidic chamber allows for tracking and examination of the islet-immune interface.