Access to mature cells and tissues is key to understanding the pathobiology of diseases and for developing drug therapies. For over 20 years (2019-2021), the challenge of culturing magnocellular neurons in vitro has been an obstacle for cellular and molecular studies on the production and regulation of oxytocin and vasopressin hormones, neurotransmitters, and their receptors. The goal of this proposal is to harness physical contacts and chemical cues of the extracellular space to create a cell culture platform that reliably promotes, maintains, and matures magnocellular neurons in the dish.
Tissue chips can enable new avenues to answer previously unattainable neuroscience questions while decreasing costs, improving access, and hastening precision data acquisition. The magnocellular neuron growth challenge is mirrored by the demand for, and limitations on, obtaining mature human-derived neurons for pharmacogenomic drug screening applications. Dr. Millet received a two-year National Institutes of Health research grant to develop and test a novel tissue chip that tailors the physical and chemical substrate to overcome the experimental limitations for working with magnocellular neurons for neurochemical release, drug testing, and drug validation studies.