In-vitro cell-based assays analyze cells placed in plastic dishes. Standard approaches extract information from cells through optical systems or sensors embedded in the plastic substrate (e.g., passive microelectrode array – MEA – technology). The information acquired from cells travels on limited bandwidth across long distances (relative to the cell’s size) before reaching a CPU on a paired machine where this information will be processed.
Long distances affect the quality of information, while bandwidth limits the quantity of information that can be transmitted to a few frames per second through imaging or a few sensors in an MEA. However, cell behavior arises fromcomplex collective interactions between large populations of cells.
Therefore, a change in paradigm is required to gain insights into cell network processing and the mechanisms of life.
At 3Brain we have devised the CorePlate™ technology to transform the standard plastic dishes used by researchers for many years to study cell networks into an intelligent device. Each well now integrates a semiconductor processing core, namely a BioSPU (BioSignal Processing Unit), which pairs with the cell processing network. The BioSPU core efficiently pre-processes cell datain-situ, free of speed or bandwidth constraints and with the best-quality output.
Brain research utilizes different techniques to study cell networks such as high content screening (HCS), patch-clamp and microelectrode array (MEA). These techniques provide meaningful insights into the biological processes of neuronal cells, but they all fail to provide a comprehensive and accurate picture of cell network dynamics.
When it comes to kinetic assays on live cells, HCS is hindered by many obstacles such as phototoxicity, photobleaching, temporal resolution and dye-mediated modification of cell physiology. Patch-clamp brings a high level of detail in single-cell and single-channel analysis but cannot capture network-wide processes. Similarly, cell network investigations with MEA passive technology are impaired by significant under sampling (a few electrodes per thousands of cells), resulting in poor statistics and questionable results.
CorePlate™ multielectrode array technology brings a processing core in contact with the cell network. The silicon BioSPU core in CMOS technology allows integrating thousands of sensors and actuators in a few square millimeters, with processing speed that perfectly matches the processing power of the cell network.
Since the early 2000s, we at 3Brain have worked to push the boundaries of CMOS technology applied to cell networks and have become a leader in the field of high-resolution electrophysiological platforms.
As the first company to optimize CMOS technology for electrogenic cells, we have overcome the challenges that have accompanied this novel technology. Our engineers have worked diligently to continue releasing new and improved circuit designs that best fit the needs of researchers working with neuronal and cardiac cells. From generation 0 to generation 3 (Khíron chip) and the next line currently under development, it is our knowledge and years of experience that culminate in better and better CMOS-MEAs.
The in-vitro cell-based assay field is constantly evolving. The rise of human-derived stem cell technology and the progression toward more in vivo-like human models raise new challenges in identifying reliable and efficient readout technology. This is why we at 3Brain are committed to ongoing development of innovative products – like the 3D CMOS chip – to maximize the potential of the dense information acquired from advanced in-vitro models such as human-derived organoids or spheroids.