Engineering new ways to fight disease
The Cellular Microsystems and Biosensors Laboratory led by Alexander Revzin, Ph.D., at Mayo Clinic is developing new strategies using engineering and science to solve liver fibrosis and diabetes through regenerative medicine, microfabrication, microfluidics and biosensors.
The Cellular Microsystems and Biosensors Laboratory at Mayo Clinic has been focused on controlling the cellular microenvironment using biomaterials, micropatterned surfaces or microfluidic devices and detecting changes in cellular function using miniature biosensors integrated into a culture system. This includes organs-on-chip — microfluidic culture systems that attempt to recapitulate cellular complexity and interactions found in vivo.
Researchers in the lab are interested in creating liver-on-chip devices to study paracrine signals being exchanged between liver cell compartments during injury. The dynamics and cellular origins of secreted signals may be monitored with on-chip biosensors. The lab is also interested in developing culture systems for stem cell maintenance and differentiation. Previous research by Alexander Revzin, Ph.D. involved solid-phase presentation of inductive signals whereby growth factors driving stem cell differentiation are immobilized on the culture surfaces.
Lab researchers have also been interested in co-cultures of stem cells and adult cells to drive differentiation of the former via paracrine signals originating from the latter. More recently the lab has begun employing microfluidic or low-volume culture systems for stem cell cultivation. These systems allow researchers to harness endogenous and autocrine signals produced by stem cells and may minimize consumption of expensive exogenous growth factors typically used in stem cell cultivation protocols.
Dr. Revzin's research team developed biosensors for local and continuous monitoring of cell activity. Researchers have produced biosensors for detecting inflammatory cytokines, oxidative stress, energy metabolites and proteases.
The lab is continuing to expand the menu of biomolecules that may be detected using such biosensors. Importantly, the utility of biosensors is not limited to the laboratory setting and may be extended to clinical diagnostics or point-of-care testing. Of particular interest is the detection of inflammatory cytokines for point-of-care diagnosis of infectious diseases.
About Dr. Revzin
Dr. Revzin is a professor of biomedical engineering at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He is an associate editor for Microsystems & Nanoengineering (a Nature Group journal) and a flow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. His work involves aspects of microfabrication, surface engineering, biomaterials, biosensors, and cell and molecular biology.