Microfluidics-based systems biology
Systems biology seeks to develop a complete understanding of cellular mechanisms by studying the functions of intra- and inter-cellular molecular interactions that trigger and coordinate cellular events. However, the complexity of biological systems causes accurate and precise systems biology experimentation to be a difficult task. Most biological experimentation focuses on highly detailed investigation of a single signaling mechanism, which lacks the throughput necessary to reconstruct the entirety of the biological system, while high-throughput testing often lacks the fidelity and detail necessary to fully comprehend the mechanisms of signal propagation. Systems biology experimentation, however, can benefit greatly from the progress in the development of microfluidic devices. Microfluidics provides the opportunity to study cells effectively on both a single- and multi-cellular level with high-resolution and localized application of experimental conditions with biomimetic physiological conditions. Additionally, the ability to massively array devices on a chip opens the door for high-throughput, high fidelity experimentation to aid in accurate and precise unraveling of the intertwined signaling systems that compose the inner workings of the cell.