Basically what we’ve done is we’ve made
a microfluidic model of lipocytes, or fat. There’s rising rates of obesity in the
United States and worldwide, and everything needs an experimental model.
Believe it or not we don’t have a good model for obesity in human beings. So
what we’ve done is made a model which uses primary cells, which is basically cells
taking up someone’s body, and put them in the microfluidic chip and made them live
for a period of time. Cells in our body, our organs, don’t like to live outside the
body. So microfluidics provides them an
environment where they can live really with full functions. So they behave like
fat cells for over three weeks and we can study them in different situations.
Microfluid is basically, think of it as a very, very tiny channel in which
fluid can flow. So think of a channel which is as almost as wide as as a
human hair. And cells like this environment because this is what mimics
the capillaries of the body. Everybody is different, so a drug that works on me
may not work on you. What this model allows us to do is make it very
personalized. So we can take a person’s cells, either the fat cells or precursor to fat
cells, and they put them on the chip, test different drugs, and see if that
treatment that will work on that particular patient. If it works then that
person could take the drug.