Raak MKB Heart on a chip

Microfluidic devices for culturing living cells

Organs-on-chips are microfluidic devices for culturing living cells in continuously perfused, micrometersized chambers in order to model the physiological functions of human tissues and organs. This technology holds great promise to revolutionize pharmaceutical drug discovery and development which today is a tremendously expensive and inefficient process. It will enable faster, cheaper, physiologically relevant and more reliable (standardized) assays for biomedical science and drug testing.

Cross border cooperation

In particular, it is anticipated that organ-on-a-chip (OoaC) technology can substantially replace animal drug testing with using the by far better models of true human cells. Moreover organ-on-a-chip technology will find its application in personalized therapy in the context of ‘precision medicine’. Despite this great potential and progress in the field, the technology still severely lacks standardized protocols and robust chip devices, which are absolutely needed for this technology to bring the abovementioned potential to fruition. Of particular interest is the heart-on-a-chip for drug and cardiotoxicity screening because there is presently no preclinical test system that predicts the most important features of cardiac safety accurately and cost-effectively. Entrepreneurs in the region Twente and Münsterland (just across the border in Germany) and other key players in the Netherlands in this field realize this potential, but do not have the knowledge autonomously to achieve this technological breakthrough. To make this next pivotal step, they have taken the initiative to join this initiative with the Saxion University of Applied Sciences and the University of Twente.

The road to success

The main goal of this project is to fabricate standardized, robust generic heart-on-a-chip demonstrator devices that will be validated and further optimized to generate new physiologically relevant models to study cardiotoxicity in vitro. To achieve this goal various aspects will be considered, including  identifying alternative, improved materials for fabricating the chips, modification and treatment of the surfaces (chemistry and topology) of the microfluidic channels within the chip, realizing 2D/3D cardiomyocyte cell culture in the chip, in which the cells are properly aligned and remain alive for a long time, (iv) integrating in-line sensors within the devices and, finally, (v) the chip design. The focus of the project is on adapting existing platforms from various partners to achieve a standard within the heart-ona-chip field which will make this technology ready to be adopted by pharmaceutical industry and other interested partners.


The RAAK MKB Heart on a chip project runs till April 2020.

More information

For more information on the RAAK MKB Heart on chip project please contact projectleaders Martin Bennink, lector LED-LC Nanotechnology Bio Interface or Peter Schön, senior lecturer/researcher Life Science, Engineering & Design