Since the early 2000s, while facing the limitations of standard passive Microelectrode Arrays (also known as Multielectrode arrays), we at 3Brain worked to push the boundaries of CMOS technology applied to cellular networks in order to provide researchers with the most advanced high-resolution microelectrode arrays (HD-MEAs).
As the first company to integrate a sophisticated silicon chip, the BioSPU (BioSignalProcessing Unit), into a well for in vitro cell analysis, we have overcome the challenges that came along with the novel HD-MEA technology.
Going even further in the design of innovative solutions for research, we thought that our very own HD-MEA technology needed a boost. Therefore we came up with a new technological and theoretical tour de force innovation, the CorePlate™ technology, adding even stronger computational capabilities at the contact of your biological sample.
From generation 0 to the generation 3 and the next line currently under development, it is our knowledge and years of experience that culminate into better and better BioSPUs to improve our understanding of cell networks.
Cell-based assays rely on the analysis of cells placed in plastic dishes. Standard approaches provide for extracting information from cells through optical systems or sensors embedded in the plastic substrate (e.g. passive microelectrode array – MEA – technology). Thereby information acquired from the cells travels on limited bandwidth across long distances (compared to the cell’s size) before reaching a CPU on a paired machine where this information will be processed.
With those traditional approaches, long distances affect the quality of information and bandwidth issues limit the quantity of information that can be transmitted to a few frames per second (optical imaging) or to a few sensors (passive MEA). Because cells’ behavior arises from complex and swift interactions between large populations of cells, a change in paradigm was required to gain insights into cell network processing and more broadly into the mechanisms of life.
That’s why we decided to integrate in our cell dish a sophisticated BioSPU microchip integrating thousands of sensors and actuators to pair with the processing cellular network. HD-MEA technology was born to tackle those data quality issues.
Moving from single-well devices to multiwell plates required for in vitro screenings, we constantly added more computational power to the semiconductor processing core, finally devising the CorePlate™ technology. Our CorePlate™ powered multiwells are intelligent devices with per well processing cores, a real leap forward from the standard plastic piece of hardware employed in brain screening over the last decades.
In vitro screenings utilize different techniques to study cell networks such as high content screening (HCS), automated patch-clamp and microelectrode array (MEA). All these techniques provide meaningful insights into neuronal cells' biological processes, but they all fail to bring a comprehensive and accurate picture of the cell network dynamics.
When it comes to kinetic assays on live cells, HCS is hindered by many obstacles such as phototoxicity, photobleaching, temporal resolution, dye-mediated cell physiology modification, etc. Patch-clamp brings high details in single-cell and single-channel analysis but cannot capture network-wide processes. Similarly, cell network investigations with passive MEA technology are impaired by significant under sampling (few electrodes per thousands of cells), resulting in poor statistics and questionable results.
The CorePlate™ technology brings a processing core in contact with the cell network. The multiple silicon BioSPU cores are even more advanced than in HD-MEA devices allowing for simultaneous analysis of all wells while providing a processing speed that represents a perfect match to the processing power of the cell networks. The CorePlate™ technology solves problems of speed and bandwidth limits even during high-throughput experiments while ensuring the best output quality of your data.
The in-vitro 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. For this reason, we at 3Brain are committed to the constant 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.