Recently, the Biomicrofluidic System Group led by Prof. QIN Jianhua from the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics (DICP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences reviewed the advances in hydrogels in organoids and organs-on-a-chip, and it was published in Advanced Materials.
Significant advances in materials, microscale technology, and stem cell biology have enabled the construction of 3D tissues and organs, which will ultimately lead to more effective diagnostics and therapy.
Organoids and organs-on-a-chip (OOC), evolved from developmental biology and bioengineering principles, have emerged as major technological breakthrough and distinct model systems to revolutionize biomedical research and drug discovery by recapitulating the key structural and functional complexity of human organs in vitro. While these two model systems show remarkable progress and great potential to mimic human physiology to some extent, they still cannot fully resemble the real tissues or organs due to the higher complexity of human organism in vivo.
There is growing interest in the development of functional biomaterials, especially hydrogels, for utilization in these promising systems to build more physiologically relevant 3D tissues with defined properties.
Hydrogels with high water content can mimic the native ECM microenvironment by spatiotemporal control over biochemical and physical cues due to their high biocompatibility and tunable properties, such as permeability, elasticity, stiffness and chemical reactivity.
Illustration of hydrogels in organoids and organ-on-a-chip applications. (Image by WANG Yaqing)
The scientists highlighted the recent progress of a variety of hydrogels (e.g., natural, synthetic, hybrid) that was adopted in the rapid development areas of organoids and organs-on-a-chip.
They first gave a snapshot of the remarkable properties of hydrogels as ECM analogous for guiding cellular behaviors in 3D tissue/organ models. Then, they described the well-defined hydrogels that was utilized into organoids and OOC systems to improve the physiological relevance of 3D models. Finally, they discussed the future opportunities, challenges and perspectives on how hydrogels with advanced properties could ultimately help to bridge the gap between the in vitro 3D tissue models and their in vivo counterparts, thus accelerating their biomedical applications.
This work was supported by the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and National Nature Science Foundation of China, etc. This work was dedicated to the 70th anniversary of DICP. (Text by WANG Yaqing and LIU Haitao)