3D Liver Cell Replicas to Fast-Track Personalised Medicine

Scientists have created a device with a series of three dimensional cells within it that mimic the activities of a liver, thereby opening up its potential use in drug testing and personalised medicine.

The chip-based model produces a faithful mimic of the in vivo liver inside a scalable fluid-handling device, the study said.

The technique used a process called photopatterning to produce defined 3D constructs in a microfluidic system.

“The first time we attempted to perform the in situ photopatterning — it just worked,” said one of the study authors Aleksander Skardal from Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in North Carolina, US.

“Science is not always that easy, so we knew we might be onto something,” Skardal noted.

They created a device architecture within which were a series of 3D liver cell constructs enclosed in a biopolymer that closely mimics the extra-cellular matrix (ECM) which the body uses to support cells in the liver.

Surrounding the printed cells with this ECM makes this model a more realistic model of the cells in vivo, the study said.

The researchers are now working to reduce the size of the 3D construct device.

This would open potential usage in drug testing and personalised medicine, the researchers said.

“Imagine being able to put, for example, tumour cells from a patient on a chip and test different drug cocktails on them” the study pointed out.

“You could determine the effectiveness and side effects of different treatments on an individual basis without endangering the patient,” the study authors said.

The results were published in the journal Biofabrication.