A user-friendly scalable microfluidic platform for enhanced neuron-cell culture

Period of Performance: 09/26/2017 - 03/31/2018


Phase 2 STTR

Recipient Firm

Xona Microfluidics, LLC
Temecula, CA 92590
Principal Investigator


? DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Neuron-cell culture is widely used for studies in basic research, drug discovery, and toxicity testing. Traditional neuron-cell culture approaches result in random growth of processes which prevent the study of their unique polarized morphology. Our goal is to provide robust, user-friendly, and cost effective culture platforms to manipulate and access neurons and their subcellular compartments (axons, cell body and dendrites). Data acquired through sales of prototype platforms developed and patented by our team show a large and increasing demand. Because of the unique morphology of neurons and the difficulty in manipulating and studying neurons in vivo, this platform has rapidly become an important tool for cell-based experimental neuroscience. These platforms are compatible with high resolution microscopy and allow axons to be manipulated and biochemically analyzed. These prototype platforms are currently replica molded using an optically transparent polymer against master-molds that are patterned using photolithography. In Phase I we developed a new fabrication strategy that will allow us to provide devices that are more uniform and significantly reduce our scrap rate by eliminating cutting or punching of the polymer. This Phase II project will first focu on expanding this fabrication strategy to undertake large-scale manufacturing of our platform. Based on customer feedback we also identified unmet needs for preassembled devices, devices optimized for human stem cell-derived neurons, and devices amenable to the investigation of synapses. In this Phase II project we will further focus on these new devices using our feasibility data obtained during the Phase I funding period. The future commercialization of these devices will scientifically benefit the neuroscience research and testing community by enabling new experimental paradigms.