Microfluidic device that is designed to mimic the geometry of a section of the pulmonary acinus

Prof. Josué Sznitman | Biomedical Engineering


Medical Devices | Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology

The Technology

Assessing deposition levels of air-borne particulate matter in the pulmonary acinus is of utmost importance for the pharmaceutical industry where such knowledge is required for development and quality validation of inhaled aerosolized drugs. In addition, deposition levels of toxic particles are directly linked to mortality and morbidity and therefore assessment of these deposition rates is vital for public health, environmental research, and regulation. Current methods for direct assessment of alveolar deposition in the body are often based on inhalation of radio-labelled aerosols by volunteering subjects and their subsequent visualization using different imaging techniques. Indirect methods for assessment of alveolar deposition rely on measuring the size of the particles and correlating the measured size to the expected deposition rates based on databases obtained using direct methods. Although useful and accurate, direct methods for assessing aerosol deposition are extremely expensive and time consuming. For this reason, the pharmaceutical industry and environmental regulation authorities rely heavily on indirect measurements based on particle sizing. However, the correlation between particle size and deposition rate in the deep lungs is not perfect since factors including particle shape, density and charge also affect alveolar deposition. The fact that the pharmaceutical industry spends an enormous amount of money on clinical deposition studies of inhaled drugs makes it clear that particle sizing is not sufficient for assessing alveolar deposition rates. The novel technology includes a microfluidic device manufactured using standard soft-lithography techniques that is designed to mimic the geometry of a section of the pulmonary acinus. The microfluidic device includes at least 3 chambers, a chamber inlet, at least 2 dichotomously branching generations of channels, a channel inlet, and a channel outlet, wherein the channels and the chambers are separated by deformable walls, wherein each wall is lined with at least one cavity, and wherein the cavity is fluidly connected to the channel. This microfluidic device constitutes a novel approach for indirect assessment of acinar particle deposition that is based on the observation of particle deposition in an in vitro device rather than solely assessing deposition based on particle size.


  • Cheap, fast and reliable assessment of alveolar deposition

Applications and Opportunities

  • Development and validation of inhaled aerosolized drugs
  • Establishment and enforcement of new environmental standards for air-borne particles by direct assessment of alveolar deposition
  • Investigational tool for laboratories exploring health effects of air-borne particles
arrow Business Development Contacts
Motti Koren
Director of Business Development, Life Sciences