Recently, cell-based diagnostics and therapeutics are emerging as alternatives for more traditional molecular diagnostics and therapeutics. Various microfluidic tools can be utilized for advancing novel modalities of diagnostics, as well as for enhancing the efficacy and specificity of cell therapy. In this talk, I will showcase some of our recent efforts in this area.
While circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are widely recognized as more specific alternatives for cancer diagnostics, there are many scientific challenges remaining, such as regarding how to define CTCs, or how to extract clinically actionable information from those cells. We have demonstrated the use a microfluidic in vitro culture system for CTCs, as an alternative to simple CTC enumeration, to extract prognostic information and to profile drug dose-response.
In cell therapy, two key engineering bottlenecks are generating sufficient number of cells required, and ensuring the ‘purity’ of product that are truly efficacious. High throughput cell sorting methodologies are ideally suited to address these challenges. I will showcase the examples of such application, in mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) and cartilage repair.