Optimization of fluid flow in a novel organ chip
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An experimental setup with organ tissue that can mimic the in vivo human microenvironment would hugely impact drug-screening, disease modeling, and ultimately the bioengineering of artificial organs. We discuss a novel microfluidic device that combines biocompatible 3D printing and a hollow fibre membrane to study drug transport and metabolic functions in human organs. This requires a tight mono-layer of functional cells through differentiation of seeded Caco-2 cells. To enhance cell differentiation, we aim to exert a homogeneous shear stress on the cells by a pulsatile fluid flow. Using numerical and analytic studies, we optimized the microfluidic design to allow for physiologically relevant shear stresses. We have found a geometry similar to concentric cylinders and an optimization criterion to maximize the time that cell differentiation is enhanced. Once further measurements are performed, this criterion can be used to optimize for the inflow. Our results suggest that a tight mono-layer of living cells can be achieved in this novel device, which is a promising tool to model human responses to newly developed drugs.