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Droplet-interface-bilayer assays in microfluidic passive networks

Schlicht, Bárbara and Zagnoni, Michele (2015) Droplet-interface-bilayer assays in microfluidic passive networks. Scientific Reports, 5. pp. 1-8. ISSN 2045-2322

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Abstract

Basic biophysical studies and pharmacological processes can be investigated by mimicking the intracellular and extracellular environments across an artificial cell membrane construct. The ability to reproduce in vitro simplified scenarios found in live cell membranes in an automated manner has great potential for a variety of synthetic biology and compound screening applications. Here, we present a fully integrated microfluidic system for the production of artificial lipid bilayers based on the miniaturisation of droplet-interface-bilayer (DIB) techniques. The platform uses a microfluidic design that enables the controlled positioning and storage of phospholipid-stabilized water-in-oil droplets, leading successfully to the scalable and automated formation of arrays of DIBs to mimic cell membrane processes. To ensure robustness of operation, we have investigated how lipid concentration, immiscible phase flow velocities and the device geometrical parameters affect the system performance. Finally, we produced proof-of-concept data showing that diffusive transport of molecules and ions across on-chip DIBs can be studied and quantified using fluorescence-based assays.