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Issue 8, 2010
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Microfluidic cell culture systems for drug research

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In pharmaceutical research, an adequate cell-based assay scheme to efficiently screen and to validate potential drug candidates in the initial stage of drug discovery is crucial. In order to better predict the clinical response to drug compounds, a cell culture model that is faithful to in vivo behavior is required. With the recent advances in microfluidic technology, the utilization of a microfluidic-based cell culture has several advantages, making it a promising alternative to the conventional cell culture methods. This review starts with a comprehensive discussion on the general process for drug discovery and development, the role of cell culture in drug research, and the characteristics of the cell culture formats commonly used in current microfluidic-based, cell-culture practices. Due to the significant differences in several physical phenomena between microscale and macroscale devices, microfluidic technology provides unique functionality, which is not previously possible by using traditional techniques. In a subsequent section, the niches for using microfluidic-based cell culture systems for drug research are discussed. Moreover, some critical issues such as cell immobilization, medium pumping or gradient generation in microfluidic-based, cell-culture systems are also reviewed. Finally, some practical applications of microfluidic-based, cell-culture systems in drug research particularly those pertaining to drug toxicity testing and those with a high-throughput capability are highlighted.

Graphical abstract: Microfluidic cell culture systems for drug research

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Article information

16 Oct 2009
09 Dec 2009
First published
21 Jan 2010

Lab Chip, 2010,10, 939-956
Article type
Tutorial Review

Microfluidic cell culture systems for drug research

M. Wu, S. Huang and G. Lee, Lab Chip, 2010, 10, 939
DOI: 10.1039/B921695B

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