U.S. scientists have developed a thumb-sized microincubator that can automatically culture living cells for laboratory testing.
The Johns Hopkins University researchers said their system represents a significant advance over traditional incubation equipment that has been used in biology labs for 100 years.
We don’t believe anyone has made a system like this that can culture cells over a period of days autonomously, said Jennifer Blain Christen, lead author of the study. Once it’s set up, you can just walk away.
The researchers said the incubator’s microchannels — fabricated in a soft silicone polymer material — allow them to easily insert and guide cells and nutrients during experiments, while the computer-controlled electronics keep the cells at the precise temperature that enables them to multiply and thrive.
The tiny incubator’s transparent design makes it easy to view the cells through a microscope or camera equipment without disrupting the conditions that help the cells to flourish.
The research, led by Professor Andreas Andreou, was reported in the journal IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems.