An effective transformation of the cell culture dishes that biologists use every day into microfluidic devices would open many avenues for miniaturizing cell-based workflows. In this article, we report a simple method for creating microfluidic arrangements around cells already growing on the surface of standard petri dishes, using the interface between immiscible fluids as a “building material.” Conventional dishes are repurposed into sophisticated microfluidic devices by reshaping, on demand, the fluid structures around living cells. Moreover, these microfluidic arrangements can be further reconfigured during experiments, which is impossible with most existing microfluidic platforms. The method is demonstrated using workflows involving cell cloning, the selection of a particular clone from among others in a dish, drug treatments, and wound healing. The versatility of the approach and its biologically friendly aspects may hasten uptake by biologists of microfluidics, so the technology finally fulfills its potential.
Science Advances 05 Jun 2019: Vol. 5, no. 6, eaav8002