Proper functioning of biological tissues relies on the organization and interactions of several elements such as individual cells and extracellular matrix. At a larger scale, the vasculature and the multi-layered organization of cells enable biological tissues to perform appropriately. An illustrative example of biological tissue having a function that is enabled by its structure is liver tissue. The unique tissue architecture of the liver is a key to its vital roles such as nutrient metabolism and detoxification. This architecture includes different functional subunits, the particular orientation and arrangement of various cell types with respect to each other, and the special vasculature. Also, regeneration of many conditions, such as bone defects and osteochondral lesions, requires the use of a stratified scaffold integrated with a distinct composition of cells. Hence, the current challenge of regenerative medicine is to engineer cellular complexity in a controlled manner that results in an organized assembly and acquisition of tissue function. Successful biomimetic platforms can be used for implants, drug screening, biological sensing, and diagnostic purposes. 

Technology Overview: 

Researchers at Northeastern fabricated a multi-material microfluidic device that simultaneously mimics the vasculature and layered arrangement of cells in tissues. The invention is comprised of two sheets folding in an interlocking pattern, thereby forming a stack of co-folded layers. Sheets contain holes with certain patterns defining particular flow paths that are independent of each other, and the holes can be in the form of nanopores that simulate the diffusion process. Sheets can have different thicknesses and be made up of different materials providing a gradient of fluid flow and different functions. Multifunctionality of the layers can also be induced by patterning, imbuing with absorbing materials, or coating. Sheets can be comprised of adhesive materials to ensure the layers remain in the place and to prevent leakage. They can be either biodegradable or non-biodegradable, which will be useful for certain implants or drug screening, respectively. The whole invention is made in a single process, so incorporating multi-materials and multilayers in the invention is not a constraint to the process compatibility and use of alignment tools. Thus, the unique design of this device meets the current limitations of engineered tissues in mimicking the complex structure of biological tissues. 


  • Not requiring alignment tooling 
  • Using a single manufacturing process to integrate multi-materials and multilayers in manufacturing device 
  • Incorporating layers of different materials, thickness, pore size, and coatings 


  • Tissue engineering 

  • Drug screening 

  • Biological sensing and Diagnostic purposes 


  • License
  • Partnering
  • Research Collaboration
Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Mark Saulich
Associate Director of Commercialization
Northeastern University
Carol Livermore
Tian Liu
Robert Lang
Xin Xie
Roger Alperin