Cell-on-hydrogel platform made of agar and alginate for rapid, low-cost, multidimensional test of antimicrobial susceptibility

Han Sun, Zhengzhi Liu, Chong Hu, Kangning Ren*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a rapidly increasing threat to the effective treatment of infectious diseases worldwide. The two major remedies include: (1) using narrow-spectrum antibiotics based on rapid diagnosis; and (2) developing new antibiotics. A key part of both remedies is the antimicrobial susceptibility test (AST). However, the current standard ASTs that monitor colony formation are costly and time-consuming and the new strategies proposed are not yet practical to be implemented. Herein, we report a strategy to fabricate whole-hydrogel microfluidic chips using alginate-doped agar. This agar-based microfabrication makes it possible to prepare inexpensive hydrogel devices, and allows a seamless link between microfluidics and conventional agar-based cell culture. Different from common microfluidic systems, in our system the cells are cultured on top of the device, similar to normal agar plate culture; on the other hand, the microfluidic channels inside the hydrogel allow precise generation of linear gradient of drugs, thus giving a better performance than the conventional disk diffusion method. Cells in this system are not exposed to any shear flow, which allows the reliable tracking of individual cells and AST results to be obtained within 2-3 hours. Furthermore, our system could test the synergistic effect of drugs through two-dimensional gradient generation. Finally, the platform could be directly implemented to new drug discovery and other applications wherein a fast, cost-efficient method for studying the response of microorganisms upon drug administration is desirable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3130-3138
Number of pages9
JournalLab on a Chip
Issue number16
Early online date6 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - 21 Aug 2016

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biomedical Engineering


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