Development of microcantilever sensors for cell studies
Micro- and nano- electromechanical devices such as microcantilevers have paved the way for a large variety of new possibilities, such as the rapid diagnosis of diseases and a high throughput platform for drug discovery. Conventional cell assay methods rely on the addition of reagents, disrupting the measurement, therefore providing only the endpoint data of the cell growth experiment. In addition, these methods are typically slow to provide results and time and cost consuming. Therefore, microcantilever sensors are a great platform to conduct cell culturing experiments for cell culture, viability, proliferation, and cytotoxicity monitoring, providing advantages such as being able to monitor cell kinetics in real time without requiring external reagents, in addition to being low cost and fast, which conventional cell assay methods are unable to provide. This work aims to develop and test different types of microcantilever biosensors for the detection and monitoring of cell proliferation. This approach will overcome many of the current challenges facing microcantilever biosensors, including but not limited to achieving characteristics such as being low cost, rapid, easy to use, highly sensitive, label-free, multiplexed arrays, etc. Microcantilever sensor platforms utilizing both a single and scanning optical beam detection methods were developed and incorporated aspects such as temperature control, calibration, and readout schemes. Arrays of up to 16 or 32 microcantilever sensors can be simultaneously measured with integrated microfluidic channels. The effectiveness of these cantilever platforms are demonstrated through multiple studies, including examples of growth induced bending of polyimide cantilevers for simple real-time yeast cell measurements and a microcantilever array for rapid, sensitive, and real-time measurement of nanomaterial toxicity on the C3A human liver cell line. In addition, other techniques for microcantilever arrays and microfluidics will be presented along with demonstrations for the ability for stem cell growth monitoring and pathogen detection.