The Cell Chip group will represent the Technical University of Vienna in the ENDOTARGET project. With our group leader, Professor Peter Ertl, we perform research, focusing on microfluidic technologies and the development of “organ-on-a-chip” models. In addition, we develop advanced in vitro diagnostic microsystems involving the culture of cells in a microfluidic device to mimic the functions and interactions of human organs. The design, production, and testing of innovative organ-on-a-chip technologies, next-generation microfluidic devices for cell investigation, and miniature biosensing platforms are the major areas of our research. One of our team’s primary focus subjects is the development of integrated platforms that combine optical and electrical microsensors, miniature fluid handling systems, and electronic components.
Our contribution to the success of the ENDOTARGET project will be to utilise a microfluidic gut barrier model consisting of epithelial and mucus-producing cells. Using our multi-layered, membrane-based and sensor-integrated microfluidics technology, we can assess the influence of intestinal microbiota-derived inflammatory molecules on the barrier functionality. With this newly established model, the integrity, viability and health of the intestinal barrier will be studied. To evaluate prospective treatment alternatives, the level of inflammation before and after the administration of medicinal agents will be examined. The detrimental effects of diverse bacterially inflammation on gut barrier functionality, as well as the transfer of inflammatory molecules into the bloodstream, will be better understood. This can further the understanding of the microbiome as a possible contributor to the development of various diseases, such as arthritis, and help to find more effective therapeutic strategies.
Secondly, we will include pneumatic actuators into the recently developed 3D synovium-on-a-chip technology to investigate how such inflammations affect the start and progression of rheumatoid arthritis and identify how joint movement affects disease remission. At TUW’s Lab-on-a-Chip facility, unique organs-on-a-chip with integrated actuators and microsensors will be designed, produced, and tested utilising state-of-the-art rapid prototyping methods. Design optimisation will be performed using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation. At the same time, established back-end processing protocols allow for efficient surface modification, immobilisation, bonding, sterilisation, and packaging of organ-on-a-chip devices. Additionally, it is possible to combine optical and/or electrical microsensors to enable non-invasive monitoring of critical physiological parameters such as metabolic activity, morphological changes, and specific biomarkers.
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