Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (IPSCs) are stem cells that can be derived from fibroblast cells (skin). It has the potential of providing multiple tissue types in the body without any transplant rejection and also bypasses the ethical issues of embryonic stem cells. However, because parts of the cellular mechanisms for reprogramming are still unclear, IPSCs has yet to be utilized in the clinical setting since scientists cannot control the reprogramming/ differentiation process precisely. Here we present a microfluidic chip, which can be used for deciphering reprogramming dynamics. This chip can pair and fuse different cell types in the single cell level for IPSCs reprogramming studies. It has been shown the most efficient stem cell reprogramming method is via cell fusion (70%). We demonstrate the ability of single cell pairing of stem cells to fibroblasts with high efficiency. We then show the feasibility of electro-fusing these cells on chip. Furthermore, we explore the possibility of utilizing micro-structures which can keep the paired cells' nuclei separated so they do not become heterokaryons (multinuclei cells). This chip provides a valuable platform for studying the mechanism of direct cell reprogramming.
Project end date: 08/17/11