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New Device to Test Drugs on Thousands of Individual Living Cells

November 04, 2019 / Medgadget

Studying how individual cells are affected by chemical compounds, viral infections, and other agents can have profound practical consequences for the development of new drugs and novel therapies for disease. Conventionally, antivirals are studied in terms of how they influence entire cellular cultures, which can lead to researchers missing important events that happen in only some cells. To observe individual cells, lab techs have to manually load individual cells into dozens of plate wells, which is highly laborious and very slow for something that should be done on the order of thousands of cells. Now, researchers at Penn state have developed a microfluidic device that has about 5700 wells that can be filled with individual cells. The cells can be exposed to a virus or other agent, and how each cell responds to that agent can be closely monitored using a microscope. One of the challenges in building the device was being able to successfully load most of the wells with live cells. Thi...