Translation of results between in vitro and in vivo studies has been hampered by technological roadblocks that prevent traditional in vitro models from recapitulating the complex environment characteristic of in vivo models. Conventional delivery of naked drugs to treat unhealthy cells in atherosclerotic plaques has been limited not only because it is difficult to transport an accurate dose of drugs to desired sites but also because drugs injected often accumulate where they shouldn’t belong, leading to adverse side effects. 

Microfluidics has offered a route by which to circumvent this technological roadblock by providing a means to develop in vitro models with greater physiological relevance using controlled fluid flow. The dysfunction of the endothelial lining in blood vasculature has long been associated with the initiation of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Several factors have been identified to be related to endothelial dysfunction, including the oscillation of the fluid shear stress.

To address this problem, we develop a reliable microfluidic platform with which to study the endothelial response to dynamic stimulation profiles of biochemical factors, translatable to a commonly used mouse model. Our current project using our microfluidic transcellular monitor is to engineer HDL-mimetic vehicles with biological molecules that can interact with diseased cells in desired sites and that can genetically engineer the cells to function correctly, eventually treating atherosclerosis. 

Sei YJ, Ahn SI, Virtue T, Kim T, and Kim YDetection of frequency-dependent endothelial response to oscillatory shear stress using a microfluidic transcellular monitor (2017) Scientific Reports 7: 10019 (Link).