Devices using microfluidics, a technology in which fluid is manipulated in engineered, miniaturized devices, can revolutionize modern medicine and address urgent, unmet medical needs to improve the health of Canadians. Recognizing this, the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the University of Toronto (UofT) have established a unique and strategic partnership through the creation of a collaboration centre called the Centre for Research and Applications in Fluidic Technologies (CRAFT). CRAFT's goal is to strengthen the entire value chain of microfluidic manufacturing, making Canada a world leader in creating and translating microfluidics-enabled diagnostic, organ-on-chip and biofabrication approaches to help improve the health of all Canadians and create a thriving, internationally competitive industry sector.
- help push forward the science and technology of microfluidics to aid in the adoption of these technologies in the health care system
- provide Canadian professionals with unparalleled hands-on learning opportunities
- accelerate the creation and commercialization of leading-edge microfluidic technologies
- improve the health of Canadians
- stimulate industrial activity for large-scale manufacturing of these technologies in Canada
CRAFT, which is co-located at the NRC's Boucherville site outside of Montreal and at the University of Toronto's St. George campus in downtown Toronto, consists of a community of UofT researchers, UofT graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, clinicians at UofT's affiliated teaching hospitals (Toronto Academic Health Science Network (TAHSN) hospitals or referred to as PODS for Patient-Oriented Discharge Summary), NRC experts and partner companies. With satellite locations at CRAFT PODSs, CRAFT will ensure technologies are designed to be readily deployed in the health care system, and potentially in remote and rural communities.
Projects will include multi-level collaborations with government, private sector and academic.
Areas of focus
The development of portable, point-of-care (POC) tests that can be brought to the patient instead of bringing the patient (or their sample) to the lab is now possible because of microfluidics. Thanks to microfluidics, processes normally carried out in laboratories can now be done on a single chip of few square centimetres (i.e., a lab-on-a-chip). These tests need a smaller sample amount, use much less reagents, generate more precise results in less time, at a higher throughput, and at a lower cost and energy consumption. The technology has also empowered the development of miniature 3D tissue models (i.e., organ-on-a-chip) and engineered tissue substitutes.
CRAFT efforts are focussed in 3 areas:
- Organ-on-a-chip: CRAFT will deploy organ-on-chip technologies that will transform drug discovery and development, and disease modelling in biomedical research
- Biofabrication (BioFab): CRAFT will engineer tissues at the scale of human organs, which will provide much-needed treatments for severely damaged and dysfunctional organs
- Diagnostics: CRAFT will create and deploy inexpensive diagnostic devices that will empower health care professionals to provide more timely and appropriate care anywhere, anytime and to anyone who needs it
The NRC's Medical Devices Research Centre's Bio-Analytical MicroNano Devices Section (BioAMND) develops, fabricates and scales up production of polymer-based micro/nano-devices for diverse applications.
- Advanced micro nano fabrication in polymer materials using nano imprint lithography and injection moulding
- Development of microfluidic methods and lab-on-chips systems for molecular diagnostics
- Devices for cell- and gene-based therapy
- Devices for organ-on-chip systems and biofabrication
- Precision and regenerative medicine
National Research Council of Canada
Research and Development Director
Medical Devices Research Centre
University of Toronto
Associate Professors Department of Mechanical and
Industrial Engineering Institute of Biomaterials and
University of Toronto
Core CRAFT facilities:
- CRAFT at the NRC Boucherville site for rapid scaling up of device fabrication under certified conditions that can be transferred to industry for large-scale manufacturing
- The Device Foundry (UofT) for rapid prototyping of polymer-based micro/nanofluidic devices and fabrication of up to 1,000 devices for characterization and preclinical and clinical evaluation
- The BioFoundry (UofT) for preclinical validation of devices
- The Diagnostics Pod (UofT) for rapid design, building, testing and small-batch manufacturing/packaging of in vitro diagnostic devices
- St. Michael's hospital clinical PODS for critical care and other PODSs (TAHSN hospitals) for clinical validation and benchmarking will be added in the coming year