The expectations for the practical application of stem cells to regenerative medicine and drug discovery have prompted rapid progress in cell research. To facilitate the smooth development of practical applications based on the outcomes of cell research, it is also essential to promote the development of technologies that enable cell measurement and manipulation.
The biodevices that were developed by utilizing technologies including semiconductor electronics, MEMS, and microfluidics are becoming capable of measuring and manipulating cells at unprecedentedly low levels of several tens of nanometers. However, there is a wide range of variations in the types of cells, and each cell varies from moment to moment on the changes in the immediate environment. Therefore, sophisticated design and construction of so-called “biointerface,” which is the interface between the artificial devices and the biological cells, hold the key to achieve accurate measurement and proper manipulation of such complex subjects as cells.
We hereby propose implementation of research and development aimed at the creation of an “interactive biointerface,” which is defined as the “structure composed of the surface of the device and the material layer that is formed on the surface of the device that functions to detect cells and biological materials on the side of the device, and transmit the signals from the device to the cells. This research and development covers the fundamental technology that determines the success or failure of the global trend of applying electronics technology to bioscience and biotechnology. In order for Japan to become a world leader in this field, it is essential to strategically promote research and development of the field as a nation.
The interactive biointerface should possess the following functions.
The function to recognize and bind to substances that are secreted or released by cells and to convert them to substances that the devices can detect using specific reactions.-substance recognition/binding/transformation function-
The function to recognize and bind to surface antigens and membrane proteins of the cells.-cell recognition/binding function-
The function to transmit stimuli from the device to the cells.-stimulus transmission function-
The function to control the milieu that affects the activity, differentiation, and proliferation of the cells.-cell milieu control function-
To realize these functions, research and development concerning a broad range of subjects spanning from the development of the molecules that constitute the interactive biointerface to the analysis of the interaction of the biodevice-mounted interactive biointerface with the cells is required. Therefore, research and development should be implemented by a team of scientists from various areas of specialization.
If the interactive biointerface is successfully created, real-time and high throughput measurement of cells can be applied for such purposes as quality control of the culture and processing of the cells. In addition, cell imaging that differs from traditional cell observation techniques using the optical microscope becomes available.
Since the Japanese electronics industry has a high potential to successfully develop and implement biodevices, the creation of new markets for biodevices can also be expected.