Serial crystallography enhanced by graphene

A Lab on a Chip article highlighted in Chemistry World by Hannah Dunckley

Introducing graphene into microfluidic devices can make it easier to study proteins at an atomic level, scientists in the US have shown. Devices that are thinner and interfere less with the measurements allow larger and more intricate protein structures to be resolved using techniques that rely on probing thousands of microcrystals.

Not only does this reduce the device’s thickness, improving the signal-to-noise ratio, the graphene also acts as a barrier to prevent the sample evaporating. John Helliwell, an expert in crystallography at the University of Manchester in the UK, explains that preventing water loss from the crystal is ‘vital…because the sample hydration state needs to be preserved for its molecular integrity’.

Perry’s group are now focusing on shrinking down the dimensions and increasing the complexity of the device, as well as studying the structure of proteins involved in programmed cell death.

To read the full article visit Chemistry World.

Click the link below to read the original research paper published in Lab on a Chip for free*:

Graphene-based microfluidics for serial crystallography
Shuo Sui, Yuxi Wang, Kristopher W. Kolewe, Vukica Srajer, Robert Henning, Jessica D. Schiffman, Christos Dimitrakopoulos and Sarah L. Perry
Lab Chip
, 2016, Advance Article
DOI:
10.1039/C6LC00451B

*Article is free to access until 26/07/2016 through a RSC registered account – click here to register

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Implanted tumour within a transparent chamber allows analysis of tumours in vivo

an article by Claire Weston, PhD student at Imperial College London

Lance Munn and co-workers at Massachusetts General Hospital have developed tissue isolation chambers that can be implanted into the brain or skin of mice beneath a transparent window, to allow host-tumour interactions to be observed over a timescale of weeks to months. A small tumour fragment from a donor mouse was placed within the shallow ‘tumour isolation chamber’ and implanted into another mouse, forcing any vasculature and connective tissue (stroma) to occur in an essentially 2D space. Fluorescent reporters were then used to visualise specific components of the tissue.

Different implantable tissue isolation chambers that were developed. a) 'raft' model; b) 'hole' model; c) 'pillar' model; d) transparent window models in the dorsal skin or brain

By using a shallow chamber, this new method overcomes some of the limitations of other systems used for studying tumour microenvironments and stromal remodelling processes. Other in vivo mouse models use fluorescent reporter and even transparent windows, however the penetration depth of optical microscopy is only a few hundred micrometers, preventing observations below this depth in the tissue. By using tissue chambers of around 150 µm, this issue is circumvented. Another problem can be in visualising structures that extend in the direction, as they may overlap and be hidden; this is overcome in this work by allowing freedom of movement in the x-y plane, while restricting movement or growth in the z direction.

In the studies carried out by the authors, tumour angiogenesis was clearly observed and was found to show the same properties usually observed in tumours. It was also found that migrating blood vessel sprouts were closely associated with bundles of collagen fibres, providing the first evidence for matrix-guided sprouting in tumour angiogenesis. The tissue isolation chambers also allowed analysis of processes that are difficult to study through other methods, due to either the short distances involved, low frequency of occurrence, or rapid dynamics.

Image sequence showing the expansion of vessel sprouts and vascular loops in the tumour isolation chamber. D1=day 1, etc. Pillar structure is indicated by an asterix.

One potential application of this technology highlighted by the authors, is to provide vascularised tissues for transplantation, allowing good blood supply to the transplanted tissue immediately after implantation. In the experiments reported in this paper, stable and mature vasculature was formed that remained functional for more than 2 months after the tissue chambers were implanted. Although these initial findings are very positive, further studies would need to be carried out on a wide range of tissue types.

To download the full article for free* click the link below:

Implantable tissue isolation chambers for analyzing tumor dynamics in vivo
Gabriel Gruionu, Despina Bazou, Nir Maimon, Mara Onita-Lenco, Lucian G. Gruionu, Peigen Huang and Lance L. Munn
Lab Chip
, 2016,16, 1840-1851
DOI:
10.1039/C6LC00237D

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About the webwriter

Claire Weston is a PhD student in the Fuchter Group, at Imperial College London. Her work is focused on developing novel photoswitches and photoswitchable inhibitors.

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*Access is free until 30/06/2016 through a registered RSC account – click here to register

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One big step towards building “body-on-a-chip”

an article by Burcu Gumuscu, PhD researcher at University of Twente

It takes about 14 years and 2 billion dollars to bring a successful drug from laboratory to clinic. A large portion of this time period includes in vitro culture tests, animal tests, and clinical trials. The overall success rate of a new drug molecule making it through this entire process is only around 10%. To improve this situation, there has been a tremendous amount of work in recent years on developing in vitro organ-on-chip models. Many organ-on-chip platforms (including heart, lung, kidney, liver, and intestine) have shown to mimic organ functions on the microscale, offering the possibility to eliminate animal testing, shorten long development times, and reduce costs. More importantly, such platforms can offer personalized medicine, enabling drug molecules to be tested directly on individual patient cells without adverse side-effects or harm.

Figure 1. The concept of elastomeric endothelialized blood vessels for interconnecting multiple organs on chip systems (liver, heart, and lung modules as illustrated).

Although existing organ-on-chip models have been shown to function well individually, integrating all models into a single fluidic circuitry (or “body-on-a-chip”) remains a necessary goal to recapitulate multi-physiological functions (Figure 1). Passive tube connections and chip-based vessels have thus far been utilized for this purpose. However, bulky dead volumes created in connections, and unbalanced scaling of the volumes between organ models and chip-based vessels, seem counterintuitive to the miniaturized nature of microscale platforms. These methods may also result in miscommunication between the organ models due to the dilution of the signal molecules secreted by the cells.

This fundamental problem has recently been addressed in a practical way by Khademhosseini and co-workers, who are the first to develop polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) hollow tubes in a range of different sizes and wall thicknesses which mimic the physio-anatomical properties of blood vessels. The fabrication of the PDMS tubes was enabled by two different strategies, including both hard and soft templating (Figure 2a). After fabrication, the tube’s interior surface was coated with human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) to introduce biological functions (Figure 2b). The biofunctionality of the elastomeric blood vessels was demonstrated by the expression of an endothelial biomarker and dose-dependent responses in the secretion of von Willebrand factor. The endothelialized PDMS tubes were also utilized for assessing a panel of drugs, including the anti-cancer drug doxorubicin, immunosuppressive drug rapamycin, and vasodilator medication minoxidil, as well as amiodarone, acetaminophen, and histamine (Figure 2c). Functional elastomeric blood vessels can be fabricated up to 20 cm in length, which is sufficient for interconnecting the organ-on-chip models. Moreover, tailorable wall thicknesses enable the opportunity to study various disease models, such as the effect of diabetes or hyperlipidemia on blood vessels. The elastomeric blood vessels are expected to replace the current technologies in assembling human organ-on-chip models.

Figure 2. (a) The elastomeric PDMS blood vessels fabricated using hard and soft templating. (b) A blood vessel template with 0.28 mm diameter is used to culture HUVEC. F-actin (green) and DAPI (blue) staining are performed to visualize the cytoskeletons and the nuclei of the cells. Scale bars are 200 μm. (c) The cell growth in the templates are further shown by live (green) and dead (red) staining under application of several drugs, including Doxorubicin (anti-cancer drug) and Minoxidil (a vasodilator usually used for treatment of severe hypertension). Scale bars are 50 μm.

To download the full article for free* click the link below:

Elastomeric free-form blood vessels for interconnecting organs on chip systems
Weijia Zhang, Yu Shrike Zhang, Syeda Mahwish Bakht, Julio Aleman, Kan Yue, Su-Ryon Shin, Marco Sica, João Ribas, Margaux Duchamp, Jie Ju, Ramin Banan Sadeghian, Duckjin Kim, Mehmet Remzi Dokmeci, Anthony Atala, and Ali Khademhosseini
Lab Chip
, 2016, 16, 1579-1586
DOI: 10.1039/C6LC00001K, Advance Article

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About the webwriter

Burcu Gumuscu is a PhD researcher in BIOS Lab on a Chip Group at University of Twente in The Netherlands. Her research interests include development of microfluidic devices for second generation sequencing, organ-on-chip development, and desalination of water on the micron-scale.

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*Access is free until 17/06/2016 through a registered RSC account.

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Pioneers of Miniaturization Lectureship 2016 – nomination deadline approaching!

Lab on a Chip and Corning Incorporated are proud to sponsor the eleventh Pioneers of Miniaturization Lectureship, to honour and support the up and coming, next generation of scientists who have significantly contributed to the understanding or development of miniaturised systems. This year’s Lectureship will be presented at the µTAS 2016 Conference in Dublin, Ireland, with the recipient receiving a prize of US$5,000.

Deadline for nominations is 1 June 2016

Submit your nominations to Lab on a Chip Editor Sarah Ruthven at LOC-RSC@rsc.org


Nominations should include:

  • Full contact and affiliation details of the person making the nomination.
  • A letter of nomination with the candidate’s accomplishments and why the lectureship is deserved. (The nominee must be aware that he/she has been nominated for this lectureship.)
  • A list of the candidate’s relevant publications or recent work (all work should be original).
  • Candidate’s scientific CV stating PhD completion date; address; and full contact details.

Who should you nominate?

Early to mid-career scientists (maximum 15 years post completion of PhD).

Scientists who have demonstrated extraordinary contributions to the understanding or development of miniaturised systems.

Terms and Conditions

The Lectureship consists of the following elements:

  • A prize of US$5,000. No other financial contribution will be offered
  • A certificate recognising the winner of the lectureship
  • The awardee is required to give a short lecture at the 2016 µTAS Conference

The award is for early to mid-career scientists (maximum 15 years post completion of PhD).

The award is for extraordinary or outstanding contributions to the understanding or development of miniaturised systems. This will be judged mainly through their top 1-3 papers and/or an invention documented by patents/or a commercial product. Awards and honorary memberships may also be considered.

The winner will be expected to submit at least two significant publications to Lab on a Chip in the 12 months after the lectureship is awarded.

Nominations from students and self-nominations are not permissible.

The decision on the winner of the lectureship will be made by a panel of judges, and this decision will be final.

Sponsors

Corning Incorporated
Corning (www.corning.com) is one of the world’s leading innovators in materials science. For more than 160 years, Corning has applied its unparalleled expertise in specialty glass, ceramics, and optical physics to develop products that have created new industries and transformed people’s lives. Corning succeeds through sustained investment in R&D, a unique combination of material and process innovation, and close collaboration with customers to solve tough technology challenges. Corning’s businesses and markets are constantly evolving. Today, Corning’s products enable diverse industries such as consumer electronics, telecommunications, transportation, and life sciences. They include damage-resistant cover glass for smartphones and tablets; precision glass for advanced displays; optical fiber, wireless technologies, and connectivity solutions for high-speed communications networks; trusted products that accelerate drug discovery and manufacturing; and emissions-control products for cars, trucks, and off-road vehicles.

Lab on a Chip
The leading journal for miniaturization at the micro and nanoscale. Lab on a Chip supports research and development of miniaturization technologies and promotes interdisciplinary co-operation across all fields of science. The Journal also provides readers with a more fundamental understanding of miniaturization and related processes as well as the necessary tools for practical application of methods and devices.

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MSB 2016 poster prize winner

The 32nd International Symposium on Microscale Separations and Bioanalysis was held at Queen’s Landing in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada from April 3-7, 2016. This symposium has been running since 1989 and was originally founded by Professor Barry Karger (Northeastern University). Over the years the format of MSB 2016 has evolved into an interactive forum for the discussion of cutting-edge research on the frontiers of separation science.

Several awards were on offer at MSB 2016, but we are happy to announce that the Lab on a Chip poster prize was won by Nicolas Drouin of the University of Genevea, Switzerland. He is pictured (above) receiving his prize from Philip Britz-McKibbin of McMaster University (Conference Chair) and Karen Waldron of Université de Montréal (Conference Co-organizer). Congratulations Nicolas!

More information on the symposium can be found here.

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2016 MicroTAS Video Competition

Lab on a Chip is proud to announce the third μTAS Video Competition, in partnership with Dolomite Microfluidics and supported by μTAS and Chemical and Biological Microsystems Society (CBMS).

We invite registered μTAS partipants to submit short videos (see terms and conditions below) that are either scientifically or educationally focused. Videos may be fun, artistic or just surprising and unusual in order to meet these criteria.

Dolomite Microfluidics, innovators in microfluidic solutions, are sponsoring this competition with the prize of €2500 worth of Dolomite equipment.

If you have an idea for a video that you would like to share with the μTAS community read the entry conditions below!

Deadline: 10 October 2016

Terms and Conditions

  • Only participants registered for the MicroTAS conference can take part and submit videos.
  • Videos must be either scientific (demonstrating interesting aspects) or educational (enhancing understanding) with respect to micro- or nanofluidics.
  • Videos can be enhanced by audio, animations, or annotations.
  • Videos should be no longer than 2 minutes with a file size less than 25 Mbytes (please use appropriate video compression).
  • Videos must be viewable on a PC without special software (.mpg, .mp4, .mov, .avi or .wmv).
  • All videos are submitted on the basis that they may be used by LOC and/or CBMS for promotional purposes in any form.
  • Assessment by an international panel of judges will take place at MicroTAS 2016 and the judges’ decision will be final
  • The prize will be awarded at MicroTAS 2016, and a voucher for the equipment will be presented to the person submitting the winning entry.
  • The video submission deadline is the end of Monday, 10th October, 2016 (Honolulu, Hawaii, USA time).

Video Award Submission Process – Easy 3 Step Process

Step 1. Sign-In to the Electronic Form using your Registration Number

Please have your Registration Number accessible. If you are unable to locate your Registration Number, please contact info@microtas2016.org.

Step 2. Fill in information on Electronic Submission Form

Step 3. Upload Your Video

All entries are to be submitted online via this website as .mpg, .mp4, .mov, .avi or .wmv. Once your entry has been successfully  uploaded and submitted, you will be given an entry number and you will be sent a confirmation email with the information your provided, minus the video. The ability to submit a video will close at the end of Monday, 10 October 2016 (Honolulu, Hawaii, USA time).

Good luck!

Previous winners:

MicroTAS 2015 Conference, Gyeongju, Korea
Spin Me Right Round

David Kinahan, Ducrée Labs, Dublin City University, Ireland

MicroTAS 2014 Conference, San Antonio, Texas, USA
Magnetotactic Bacteria
Tijmen Hageman, KIST Europe GmbH, Germany

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