Ignite the Power of 3D Cell Culture with InSphero
Meet InSphero at SLAS2021, the annual meeting of the Society of Laboratory Automation & Screening, where science research and development professionals gather to learn about the latest and greatest laboratory tools and technologies available and how they are being applied by their peers. This year the SLAS organizers have gone all out to orchestrate an information-packed digital conference and exposition. Even though we can't meet with you in person this year, we hope you'll stop by our virtual SLAS Booth and take advantage of the many digital options available to connect with our conference team — Olivier Frey, Frauke Greve, Judi Wardwell, Sue Grepper, and Karen Dowell — and discover what's new at InSphero:
- Versatile research platforms for metabolic diseases (type 2 diabetes and NASH), autoimmune diseases (type 1 diabetes) oncology, and liver toxicology
- 3D InSight™ microtissue models precisely engineered to increase efficiency in drug discovery and safety testing, available as assay-ready spheroid models or as the foundation for custom services or collaborative research programs
- Scalable Akura™ technology, engineered specifically for use with 3D InSight™ human microtissue models, including 96- and 384- well formats as well as our unrivaled, plug-and-play 80-well microphysiological organ-on-a-chip system
- Akura™ Flow Academic Access Program — an exclusive opportunity for academic groups to get a head start on applying organ-on-chip technology in their research. Featured in the SLAS 2021 New Product Showcase
- Our unique InFloat™ microtissue shipping technology — a Top 10 Finalist in the 2021 SLAS New Product Awards
Akura™ Flow: the Inside Story
In SLAS Technology: Translating Life Sciences Innovation, read the story of how our Akura™ Technology team collaborated with Prof. Andreas Hierlemann's bioengineering lab at ETH Zurich to develop and test early prototypes of what would become our Akura Flow™ microphysiological system. Designed for body-on-a-chip applications, such as low clearance assays and metabolic disease modeling using multiple types of 3D InSight™ microtissues, this technology was a top finalist for the prestigious SLAS Innovation Award and enables researchers to:
- Minimize cell, medium and compound use in a miniaturized 10-microtissue configuration
- Leverage maximum physiological complexity while minimizing operational complexity
- Compare numerous conditions in parallel on one plate in a scalable, automation-compatible platform
- Employ a diverse array of experimental endpoints
InFloat™ Shipping Technology
SLAS2021 Product Award Finalist
InFloat™ Shipping Technology, our revolutionary new transport technology for shipping live 3D cell culture models, has been selected as one of the 10 finalists for the SLAS2021 New Product Award. This unique shipping solution ensures that plates of assay-ready 3D InSight™ microtissues not only remain upright, but also secure and at physiological temperatures suitable for live cell cultures during domestic and international transit to pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and academic laboratories worldwide, for drug efficacy and safety testing. This unique packaging solution employs a simple, but ingenious approach, in which a watertight spherical container holding plates of microtissues, floats on water inside a cubical container and can freely rotate. The precious microtissue cargo inside always remains in a stable, upright position even if the exterior box is turned and flipped upside down during transit.
Special Interest Group
2021 HCS/HCA Data and Informatics SIG
High content imaging approaches to organs-on-chips: recent advancements and future prospects
This guided panel discussion on Organ-on-a-Chip technology will include brief presentations by three panelists to encourage the audience to engage and participate in what we anticipate will be a lively discussion. Organs-on-chips are miniaturized 3D microfluidic devices that reconstruct the multicellular and physical microenvironment of specific tissues or organs and can be used to model normal or disease level functions. Topics will include 1) How organs-on-chips recapitulate physiological conditions and offer an alternative or parallel preclinical model to study biological mechanisms or assess drug efficacy/toxicity, 2) High content imaging assays that are being applied to organs-on-chips, and 3) Current opportunities, challenges, and development areas for the future of HCS/HCA applications using organs-on-chips platforms.
Olivier Frey, PhD
Head of Technologies and Platforms
Microphysiological Systems Lead
Seungil Kim, PhD
Staff Scientist, Microscopy Team Manager
USC, Ellison Institute
Lorna Ewart, PhD
Executive Vice President and Scientific Liason
This SIG is sponsored by SLAS and the Society of Biomolecular Imaging and Informatics (SBI2)
Best Practices for Developing High Resolution Imaging Assays in 3D Cell Models
In vitro spheroid models are fast becoming the de facto standard for drug discovery applications, largely due to their human-like physiological and morphological characteristics, tissue-like cellular complexity, and long functional lifespan. Each of these attributes contributes to an in vitro model platform capable of providing a more accurate reflection of patient treatment plans and responses in the clinic. High content imaging and analysis (HCA) of 3D spheroid models can provide valuable information to help researchers untangle disease pathophysiology and assess novel therapies more effectively. The transition from simple monolayer 2D cell models to dense 3D spheroids in HCI applications, however, requires 3D-optimized protocols, instrumentation, and resources.
We have identified 6 key areas, related to the broader topics of “3D Cell Models and Assays” and “3D High Content Imaging”, on which to focus while establishing a high content imaging and image analysis pipeline for complex 3D spheroid models: 1) Bio-relevant 3D spheroid models to mimic healthy and diseased physiology in vitro; 2) Scalable 3D cell assay technology to culture and conduct experiments on 3D models; 3) 3D optimized protocols to fix, stain, and clear 3D models for imaging; 4) 3D ready automation systems; 5) 3D compatible HCI systems; and 6) 3D image and Data Analysis systems to interpret and present results that provide drug discovery insights. Within each of these key areas, we share specific tips and tricks for setting up and conducting a successful proof-of-concept study designed to test the full potential of high-resolution image-based analysis of 3D spheroid models. We also provide a working checklist for researchers and core services groups planning to exploit these technologies in their work.
Fully automated multi-organ-on-chip assembly for studying tissue-tissue and drug-drug interaction
Disease modeling and drug development require an understanding of the interactive nature of different organs in the human body. Many building blocks from several research disciplines must be merged to engineer scalable multi-organ in vitro systems that can replicate systemic in vivo responses. Here we present a microphysiological 3D human liver – islet microtissue platform with automated assembly that enables direct liver – islet crosstalk for studying drug-drug interactions.
The building blocks of our multi-organ systems are: 1) Liver microtissues, which consist of a primary hepatocyte-Kupffer cell co-culture with sustained metabolic and inflammatory function for at least four weeks; 2) Islet microtissues, comprising all endocrine cells at a physiological ratio with maintained glucose response for at least four weeks; 3) Optimized co-culture medium and active liver-islet crosstalk improving viability and functional responsiveness of microtissues in insulin-free medium; 4) A scalable microfluidic multi-compartment system in SLAS/ANSI plate format with gravity-driven perfusion; and 5) A robotic liquid handler for automated and damage-free assembly of the different microtissues in the multi-organ system.
In a proof-of-concept study, we mimicked a common, drug-drug interaction occurring in cancer patients needing diabetic medication. Type 2 diabetes patients who receive the anti-diabetic drug Gliclazide have an elevated risk for life-threatening hyperglycemic conditions when co-administered with the anti-tumor drug Rifampicin. This adverse drug-drug interaction is caused by Rifampicin inducing a higher activity of drug metabolism, thereby increasing clearance rate of Gliclazide. Lower Gliclazide plasma levels lead to decreased plasma insulin concentrations and thus increased blood glucose levels in patients.
Using our multi-organ network, we replicated the effect in vitro. The drug-drug interaction was characterized by comparing insulin concentrations and gliclazide clearance between liver-islet and islet-only microphysiological co-culture. Gliclazide caused an induction of insulin secretion from islets and thereby led to a substantial increase in insulin concentration in the multi-organ system. Similar to data documented in medical reports, Rifampicin co-administration reduced the amount of active Gliclazide molecules, in turn impacting insulin secretion from islets and therefore insulin availability.