Creating Bar Codes For Organoids
A new method pioneered by NYSCF – Robertson Investigator Takanori Takebe, MD, Assistant Professor at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and Associate Professor at Yokohama City University, Japan, employs a special type of microchip—called a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip—to track the development of organoids.
What is an RFID chip?
Although you may not have heard of an RFID chip, chances are you have encountered one before. RFID chips are used for a variety of purposes, such as tracking products as they move from store to store, timing runners in marathons, or even helping people locate their pet (the microchips used to track down lost dogs are RFID chips).
The chips act as a barcode, but since they emit radio waves, they don’t need to be lined up to a scanner the way a typical barcode would in order to transmit information—they just need to be in the general vicinity of an RFID reader.
Why use RFID chips to track organoid growth?
Organoids, miniature 3D aggregates of cells that can help researchers examine how human organs develop, are made by allowing stem cells from a certain organ to self-assemble and mature in a dish. By allowing RFID chips to naturally integrate into the cells of developing liver organoids instead of forcefully injecting in a tracking device, Dr. Takebe and his team could then record any interesting changes the organoids exhibited as they grew. They could also track which organoids were generated from the cells of patients with liver disease and which came from healthy donors.
The researchers found that 95% of the liver organoids successfully incorporated the chip. These organoids showed no major differences in how they developed in comparison to organoids without the chip. The chip also stood up to the wear-and-tear of the research process: they were frozen, thawed, and exposed to environments with different acidities without ever losing their function.
Dr. Takebe next plans to scale up this method by creating a way to read an organoid’s RFID chip and its fluorescence at the same time. He also hopes to use the RFID chips’ sensory capabilities to record real-time data on organoid development.