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RFID-enabled Organoids Offer Aid in Scientific Research

Researchers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital have conducted a test of their UHF RFID-enabled miniature human organs to enable high-volume testing of the tissues in pharmaceutical and implant development.
By Claire Swedberg

The proof-of-concept took place in the lab by testing the effectiveness of detecting the genetic disorder of steatohepatitis in the RFID-enabled tissues. For the testing, the scientists used a process of phenotypic screening on a group of 10 organoids. Some of the organoids came from healthy donors, while others were diseased.

The research team developed a device with a built-in RFID interrogator to simultaneously measure the fluorescence and detect the UHF RFID chip in a single step. The RiO pool was then placed on the counter-top interrogator that captured all of the tag IDs and their locations within the wells, at a very close range. A built-in microscope, at the same time, uses fluorescence to automatically identify the lipid accumulation (and thus the presence of steatohepatitis) in the tissues. The fluorescence intensity used and the morphology results were then pair with the chip's ID number.

In a typical testing environment, if a reading of interest was detected, the organoids would be automatically detected. In that way, the system could identify a disease and link that information to the small tissue that could then be reused in other testing.

In the case of the RiO pilot, the team evaluated whether the chip could in any way compromise the tissue inside which it was embedded. They found, in fact, that the chip had limited effect on the cells that assembled around it. They tested for bile transport capacity and fat accumulation capacity in the RiO, Takebe says, and found "that the presence of the RFID chip in the liver organoids does not seem to affect native structure and function." The researchers also tested the RFID chips in freezing and liquid nitrogen environments and found that they continued to operate properly.

The group has more testing ahead, Takebe notes, but the long-term goal is to commercialize a product that could be used by labs and pharmaceutical companies. The RFID technology built into the organoids could then help scientists better understand how certain conditions will affect organs in people with specific characteristics.

What the group found, Takebe says, is that "a RiO-based pooling approach will be an efficient way to determine individualized phenotypes in a high-throughput setting." He says he is in conversations with several pharmaceutical companies that would like to test the system with RFID chips, readers and software that can capture, manage and display the RFID read data together with test results.

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