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Monitoring light propagation through cells to assess for disease
The LiPhos Grant Project
One of Cellix's core tasks within this project is the development of an enclosed, microfluidic-based incubation system for real-time monitoring of cell-cultures on-chip (WP2).
Step one of this was the redesign of our existing Kima pump into a "double-Kima" to facilitate cell culture in the newly designed biochips. Three of these "double-Kima" pumps were dispatched to our partners at University of Groningen, Aarhus and the Spanish National Cardiovascular Research Center. See images of them here.
As data are generated from the different partners and protocols are developed, modifications and optimisation of this pump are required.
Bench-marking and pre-clinical validation of the device together with the biochip will be carried out in WP5, in which Cellix is also involved. The following pictures illustrate the "double-Kima" pumps which were developed and sent to partners in the consortium. Cellix is also involved in defining the specifications for target analytes, cell cultures, biomarkers, photonic systems, etc. (WP1).
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Double Kima pump for Nikon microscope frame.
Culture bottles on the left beside the pump; chip-holder on the right.
Double Kima pump for Zeiss microscope frame.
Pump is on each side of the chip-holder which is in the centre.
Overall Project Aims
LiPhos is focused on the development of completely innovative biophotonic diagnosis tools, which are for the first time implemented using cells as constituent material.
Here, and unlike existing systems, light remains confined in a wave-guide whose core is uniquely composed by cells, giving rise to the "Living photonics" concept. In this context, cells play a two-fold role:
they form the biomaterial with higher refractive index than the surrounding media, thus defining the wave-guide;
they are interrogated by the light coupled into them, acting as reporter elements and exhibiting a specific spectral response.
The advantage of this configuration is the highly-efficient cell-light interaction, making it possible to diagnose diseases by measuring and comparing their photonic fingerprint (PIN). This key parameter, newly introduced in LiPhos, consists of the spectral response of the living photonics and includes the different inherent or acquired bands and peaks (scattering, absorbance and/or fluorescence) directly related to the cell culture under study. This is highly specific, since healthy and non-healthy cell cultures present different PINs.
This ground-breaking method will give rise to a powerful analytical tool, which could be applied to study and diagnose a disease at cell culture level. The ultimate aim of the LiPhosproject is the diagnosis of cardiovascular diseases (CVD).
This target will be addressed firstly by measuring adherent cell layers cultured under controlled conditions and representing disease or healthy states. At a later stage, the LiPhosconcept will undergo pre-clinical validation as a diagnostic tool for CVD, using arterial segments obtained from patients with known endothelial dysfunction.
LiPhos provides a realistic, yet innovative and game-changing opportunity of reducing the impact of CVD in society and in the global economy, as well as providing huge market possibilities to the companies involved.
This project has received funding from the European Commision under the funding call FP7-ICT-2011-8.