Design, fabrication and characterization of drug delivery systems based on lab-on-a-chip technology

Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 2013 Nov;65(11-12):1403-19. doi: 10.1016/j.addr.2013.05.008. Epub 2013 May 29.


Lab-on-a-chip technology is an emerging field evolving from the recent advances of micro- and nanotechnologies. The technology allows the integration of various components into a single microdevice. Microfluidics, the science and engineering of fluid flow in microscale, is the enabling underlying concept for lab-on-a-chip technology. The present paper reviews the design, fabrication and characterization of drug delivery systems based on this amazing technology. The systems are categorized and discussed according to the scales at which the drug is administered. Starting with the fundamentals on scaling laws of mass transfer and basic fabrication techniques, the paper reviews and discusses drug delivery devices for cellular, tissue and organism levels. At the cellular level, a concentration gradient generator integrated with a cell culture platform is the main drug delivery scheme of interest. At the tissue level, the synthesis of smart particles as drug carriers using lab-on-a-chip technology is the main focus of recent developments. At the organism level, microneedles and implantable devices with fluid-handling components are the main drug delivery systems. For drug delivery to a small organism that can fit into a microchip, devices similar to those of cellular level can be used.

Keywords: Cell culture; Concentration gradient generator; Lab on a chip; Microfluidics; Microneedles; Micro–nanotechnology; Organ on a chip; Smart particles.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Drug Delivery Systems*
  • Drug Design*
  • Drug Implants
  • Humans
  • Lab-On-A-Chip Devices*
  • Microfluidics / methods
  • Nanotechnology / methods
  • Needles


  • Drug Implants