A prototype of the new microfluidic device for hPSCs, consisting of narrow channels embedded in silicon rubber. (iCeMS/Kamei)

Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) hold great promise for cell-based therapies, regenerative medicine, drug screening, and other uses in medicine and health. A team of researchers from Kyoto University has developed a chip-like plate on which hPSCs can be raised in optimal, 3D conditions.

The scientists describe their invention as a "microfluidic device," which in combination with a thermo-responsive gel allows for the creation of an ideal, artificial microenvironment for hPSC culture and analysis.

Using temperature, the gel can be easily transformed into a liquid, allowing customization and fine-tuning of the culture environment possible.

In addition to improving drug-screening efforts and chemical toxicological assays, the device will aid "organ-on-a-chip" or "body-on-a-chip" development, given the technology's ability to recreate in vivo physiological conditions.