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Retina-on-a-chip – Development of a parallelized microphysiological system amenable for high-content drug testing.

About the Solution

We have developed a prototype of a human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC) based 3D Retina-on-a-chip challenging several current disadvantages of stem cell based in vitro systems. It allows for 3D co-culture of retinal organoids, retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and further cell types in a defined and reproducible microenvironment, featuring a physiological vasculature-like perfusion. The system enables the maintenance of viability and functionality of the retinal 3D tissue over multiple weeks. Moreover, our first results indicate a substantial improvement of photoreceptor outer segment formation and a functional interplay of photoreceptor and RPE as shown by segment phagocytosis. In the framework of the 3-D ROC Challenge, we propose a parallelization of our 3D Retina-on-a-chip system and the integration of further hiPSC-derived cell types (e.g. endothelial cells) to create a next generation Retina-on-a-chip 2.0 system. The Retina-on-a-chip 2.0 will feature 48 individual units in an integrated chip with standard well plate-dimensions and will be amenable for high content drug screening as well as disease modeling.

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