In January, Cellix launched the VenaFlux™ platform, a semiautomated, high-throughput, microfluidic cell-based assay for measuring cell adhesion under conditions that mimic physiological flow. The inspiration for the new system came from customers who asked for a semiautomated version of the earlier Microfluidic SP1.0 system.
VenaFlux uses Vena8 and VenaEC biochips with eight and two microchannels, respectively, that are coated with antibodies or endothelial cells. The manual SP1.0 system uses similar biochips with eight channels.
Each channel is about 400 microns wide, 100 microns deep, 20 millimeters long, and holds 1 to 15 µL of fluid. The small volume makes the system ideal for studying rare cell types or low sample volumes, Williams says. Shear stress, delivered with Cellix’ Mirus™ Nanopump, ranges from 0.05 to 100 dyne/cm2 applied in steps of 0.05 dyne/cm2.
The VenaFlux system can run eight microchannels in 15 minutes, allowing 32 assays to be performed in one hour or about 1,000 assays a week, Williams notes. The relatively rapid analysis reduces drug development costs by eliminating false leads early in the research and development stage, she adds.
Moreover, the company insists, VenaFlux is simple to use, and it cuts down on costly experiments in animal models. The VenaFlux Platform includes a patented nanopump, software, automated robotic arm, digital camera, and Carl Zeiss Axiovert™ 40 CFL inverted microscope.
Traditionally, researchers have performed cell-based assays in isolated 96-well microplates. Each isolated microwell, however, gives only a limited view of an in vivo microenvironment in which cells are in constant communication with each other. Scientists at Cellix strive to reproduce the multitude of interactions occurring in local microenvironments as cells migrate within microchannels.
The effects of drugs on cell adhesion, proliferation, and transmigration are examined under well-defined shear stress protocols with the Cellix techology. Researchers can observe how disease processes control cell migration from the bloodstream to sites of infection and injury by analyzing cells under flow rates that replicate physiological conditions. Additionally, examination of cells under flow permits the exploration of how drugs, pathogens, changes in blood gases, and toxic compounds impact cells, Williams explains.
A range of suspension cell samples can be used with the VenaEC biochips, including T cells, monocytes, neutrophils, eosinophils, platelets, and heparinized whole blood, the company reports. Validated samples include human coronary artery endothelial cell monolayers for investigating monocyte adhesion in cardiovascular diseases and human microvascular endothelial cell monolayers for investigating eosinophil adhesion in respiratory diseases.