Organoids—tiny spherelike tissues that mimic human organs—can be used to test drugs to predict responses in patients, because they imitate organs’ multicellular complexity and three-dimensional structure better than cell lines. Tracking organoids’ origins is important during testing, but tagging techniques for tracking can be labor intensive and costly. Now, Takanori Takebe and colleagues at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center have integrated radio frequency (RF) chips into liver organoids, allowing wireless identification (iScience 2018, DOI: 10.1016/j.isci.2018.05.007).
Each chip costs only about 10–20 cents, and they reduce total screening time from months to days. The biologists made organoids from pluripotent stem cells from 10 different human donors, some healthy and some with a liver disease. At an early stage of organoid formation, they placed an RF chip, which eventually sits within the cavity of the resulting sphere, onto the cells. These chip-embedded liver organoids don’t differ from chip-free ones in form or biological activities. They also function well under experimental manipulations like cryopreservation and pH changes. In a proof-of-principle screening using the RF chip, the researchers were able to distinguish organoids generated from donors with a liver disease. They worked with about 20 chips this time, but in the future they hope to screen thousands of organoids for drug testing.