Heart-on-a-chip (RAAK)


Organs-on-chips are microfluidic devices for culturing living cells in continuously perfused, micrometer-sized chambers in order to model the physiological functions of human tissues and organs. This technology holds great promise to revolutionize pharmaceutical drug discovery and development. It will enable faster, cheaper, physiologically relevant and more reliable (standardized) assays for biomedical science and drug testing. In particular, it is anticipated that organ-on-a-chip technology can substantially replace animal drug testing with using the by far better models of true human cells. Moreover organ-on-a-chip technology will find its application in personalized therapy in the context of ‘precision medicine’.

Of particular interest is the heart-on-a-chip for drug and cardiotoxicity screening because there is presently no preclinical test system that predicts the most important features of cardiac safety accurately and cost-effectively. The main goal of this project is to fabricate standardized, robust generic heart-on-a-chip demonstrator devices that will be validated and further optimized to generate new physiologically relevant models to study cardiotoxicity in vitro.


In the heart-on-a-chip project, different materials for chip fabrication will be tested. Surfix will develop biofunctional nanocoatings to ensure robust attachment of heart muscle cells (cardiomyocytes) to the chip. To mimic in vivo conditions, the chip surface has to promote alignment of cardiomyocytes. This can be achieved by using patterned nanocoatings, offering local control of cell adhesion and growth. This principle is demonstrated in the figure beside, showing the spatially controlled growth of neurons on a surface with patterned nanocoatings.