Organ-on-a-chip technology creates small biological structures that copy organ function which enables quicker evaluation of the effectiveness of new drugs. A new biosensor has been created to help retrieve the data from the structures. It uses a phosphorescent gel which is applied to an organ-on-a-chip when it is made. The gel gives out infrared light after exposure to infrared light and emits an echoing flash. The length of time between these two events is just microseconds, but researchers can accurately determine oxygen concentration by monitoring it. The more oxygen in the environment, the shorter the length of time.
“Organ-on-a-chip technology oxygen level tracking possible with biosensor“
Michael Daniele, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at North Carolina State University, said: “For the most part, the only existing ways of collecting data on what’s happening in an organ-on-a-chip are to conduct a bioassay, histology, or use some other technique that involves destroying the tissue. What we really need are tools that provide a means to collect data in real time without affecting the system’s operation. That would enable us to collect and analyse data continuously, and offer richer insights into what’s going on. Our new biosensor does exactly that, at least for oxygen levels. What this means in practical terms is that we need a way to monitor oxygen levels not only in the organ-on-a-chip’s immediate environment, but in the organ-on-a-chip’s tissue itself, and we need to be able to do it in real time. Now we have a way to do that. One of our next steps is to incorporate the biosensor into a system that automatically makes adjustments to maintain the desired oxygen concentration in the organ-on-a-chip. We’re also hoping to work with other tissue engineering researchers and industry. We think our biosensor could be a valuable instrument for helping to advance the development of organs-on-a-chip as viable research tools.”