Available Technology

Customizable Hydrogel Microwell Array

Drug discovery is an expensive and time consuming process that requires screening massive libraries of drugs for activity against a candidate drug target. Mechanized high throughput screening has recently allowed scientists to screen chemical libraries of 10,000-100,000 compounds for finding lead compounds or screen whole genome libraries to find candidate targets. Miniaturization of wells that contain the cells for these screens drastically cuts down the cost of running high throughput screens by reducing reagents, however, the current methods for creating microwells are suboptimal. Soft lithography techniques are prone to delamination of the microwells from the base substrate, and current photopolymerization techniques are prone to leakage and imprecise well height control. These inventors have developed an improved microwell manufacturing technique that makes hydrogel microwells with micron precision.
Abstract: 
This technology uses photopolymerizable hydrogels to form microwells. When exposed to light, these polymers solidify to make the bottoms and sides of the microwell. The first component used to assemble the microwell array is a photomask that selectively allows light to pass through in the desired pattern for the microwells. Sealed to this photomask plate is a ring into which the hydrogel precursor is poured, and the height of this ring determines the depth of the microwell. A solid microwell backing is placed on top of the ring, then light is passed through the photomask plate from below to polymerize the hydrogel and covalently attach it to the solid backing. This process can be performed repeatedly with new microwell backings. All dimensions of the microwells are customizable by changing the height of the ring and pattern of the photomask, and the microwells can be made small enough to for single cells or single organioids. Additionally, other molecules, such as cell culture growth factors, assay reagents, or therapeutics, can be seeded directly into the hydrogel matrix of the microwell.
Benefits: 
Microwell array manufacturing with micron precision - Fully customizable dimensions - Repeated fabrications of many microwell arrays on new backings - No delamination – Microwell is covalently bonded to backing - No leaking – Ring is permanently sealed to photomask
applications: 
Inventors: 
Linda Griffith
Lab Representatives
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