What if researchers could measure flavour with the help of a chip? In fact, what if they could mimic a human tongue that recognises taste differences more objective and more accurate than test panels?


At Wageningen University & Research a microfluidic technique called ‘receptomics’ has recently been developed by a team lead by MA (Maarten) Jongsma. This new technique measures the response of many different receptor proteins to series of extracts or pure substances in a flow cell. One of the applications of this receptomics technique is the ‘Tongue-on-a-chip’.

Visualising taste differences

In creating a Tongue-on-a-chip, a flow cell is prepared with an array of over 300 spots, printed in a grid layout. The spots consist of dna that codes for different receptors. Furthermore, each spot contains dna that codes for a coloured signalling protein. Cells are then seeded on top. After cell division, a layer of cells covers the entire surface, locally expressing the printed dna. Each spot now represents a unique receptor. Integrated in a microfluidic device, the cell array is exposed to samples of taste molecules that can interact with different receptors. Some receptor proteins will react to specific samples and subsequently trigger a biological response, which is visualised by the coloured signalling protein. Real-time visualisation of response signals of the complete array of spots enables the determination of specific response patterns for each sample.


Tools provided by Micronit

This dynamic microfluidic flow approach has created an innovative way to culture and trigger cells while offering precise and continuous control during the process. In developing this Tongue-on-a-chip, the Wageningen scientists have made use of Micronit’s flow cells and Micronit’s Fluidic Connect PRO chip holder. Micronit offers a range of dedicated organ-on-a-chip devices for researchers active in the field of advanced biomedical engineering. These devices can be completed with single or multiple chip holders and pumps.

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Sensors 201818(2), 602;