Pump-prime Projects

Feeling the force: Enhancing OOAC capability for biomechanical assessment and application

Status: Completed
Principal Investigator:
Award round: 3
Start date: 01-03-2021
End date: 31-07-2021
Contract amount: £23,471
PDFInitial project report


The role of the mechanical environment is key to normal tissue development, regeneration and disease progression (cancer, fibrosis, osteoarthritis). Even though OOAC have enabled the study of tissue biology under fluid flow, assessing mechanical properties changes over time within microfluidic chips is challenging.

Through EPSRC funding, AEH and PB’s lab have recently developed an optical technology, MECHASCAN, that can image and quantitate in parallel the mechanical properties of tissue in real time in culture. By measuring minute displacements induced by ambient shear waves, we have developed an algorithm which can be translated to other in vitro culture systems for use in commercial applications. The measurement system has been validated using bone and chondrocyte pellet and 3D structures as well as other tissue systems in vitro (Mason et al submitted Nat Biomed Eng). For the purpose of the project we will investigate the use of MECHASCAN in an OOAC device being developed in Warwick.

JC’s lab is investigating a new approach to combine the key enabling features of microfluidics with the advantages of plate assays, through the development of fluidic lids. The lids, capable of applying continuous and controllable fluid flow and hydrostatic pressure, allows for the repurposing of any standard plate. Using this platform we aim to test the role of fluid flow on MECHASCAN capability. The combination of the two technologies will provide a high throughput OOAC platform to study biomechanics with integrated readout.

First, we will concentrate on development and modelling of a small scale format to demonstrate feasibility. In particular, we will study the mechanical properties of bone spheroids under osteogenic media regimes, and in response to fluid flow and hydrostatic pressure and deduce changes in the elastic modulus on-line.