Microfluidic tissue-on-a-chip devices help researchers study drug toxicity and model the effects of flow conditions on cell behavior. While obtaining her PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Parinaz Fathi conducted research at the National Institute of Standards and Technology using this lymphatic vessel chip. Here the chip’s channels, which measure 1.75–5.5 mm wide, are filled with the fluorescent pigment biliverdin to make them stand out. Breast cancer tumors often metastasize to lymph nodes, and Fathi and coworkers used this chip to explore the effects of shear flow, or flow induced by a force, on cell alignment and cytokine production. “The health of the system, the flow conditions, and the existence of cytokines that encourage metastasis formation all interact with each other,” Fathi explains. She has since completed her PhD and now researches nanoparticle-based cancer immunotherapies as a postdoc at the National Institutes of Health.
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