Utilizing Microfluidics for Optimizing Stem Cell Therapies
Microfluidics Theory
Integration of Microfluidics and Stem Cells
Stem Cell Background
Current Microfluidics Devices Used For Stem Cells
Stem Cell Therapies

              The advantage of utilizing microfluidics in stem cell therapies is that it serves as a platform to produce more efficient high-throughput cultures so to make large sample culturing more cost-effective. For any treatment, its success for implementation is largely dependent on its availability to people. By making the process more efficient and therefore less expensive, more people will benefit from its use. Although currently microfluidics is not being used directly with stem cell therapies, the research shows much promise of its ability to be successfully integrated. Discussed in the current microfluidic devices section were examples of devices capable of culturing and differentiating stem cells into desired cell types. While stem cell differentiation is still not fully understood, microfluidics can provide a means to analyze, in high-throughput, different combinations of soluble factors and substrates so that optimum culturing protocols can be developed. It’s the ability of microfluidics to precisely control the cell’s microenvironment that enables optimization and reproducible results to be obtained. Conventional culture dishes do not allow for stable control of the cell's microenvironment which results in large discrepancies between stocks. If stem cell therapies are to be made commercially, the culturing protocol will have to be automated which requires reproducible conditions. It is foreseeable that devices can be designed that within a population of stem cells, cells can simultaneously replicate and differentiate in a manner where the device is able to continuously provide viable cells for therapies as well as maintain its source of stem cells. This type of behavior was shown by the Jeon group, that exposed a population to a continuous gradient of growth factors and cell in the low concentration range differentiated and cells in the high concentration range proliferated. This device can be coupled with varying substrates to further optimize differentiation as shown by the Bhatia group. Combinations of substrates and soluble growth factors can be vaired in time to yield different types of cells in hopes for making an heterogenous tissue compenent. The reason for doing so would be to have a higher probablity of the implanted cells integrating with the host. If the cells are able to integrate more efficiently, then the likelyhood of those cells functioning and surviving greatly increases. The figure below shows one possible scenerio where pluripotent stem cells are obtained from a blastocyst and put into a microfluidic device. The device can be designed, using approaches described above, that will yeild multiple types of cells. These cells can then be incorporated into the body hopefully to restore function.

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