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Automating microfluidic part verification

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      The origins and the future of microfluidics.

      The manipulation of fluids in channels with dimensions of tens of micrometres--microfluidics--has emerged as a distinct new field. Microfluidics has the potential to influence subject areas from chemical synthesis and biological analysis to optics and information technology. But the field is still at an early stage of development. Even as the basic science and technological demonstrations develop, other problems must be addressed: choosing and focusing on initial applications, and developing strategies to complete the cycle of development, including commercialization. The solutions to these problems will require imagination and ingenuity.
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        Isolation of rare circulating tumour cells in cancer patients by microchip technology.

        Viable tumour-derived epithelial cells (circulating tumour cells or CTCs) have been identified in peripheral blood from cancer patients and are probably the origin of intractable metastatic disease. Although extremely rare, CTCs represent a potential alternative to invasive biopsies as a source of tumour tissue for the detection, characterization and monitoring of non-haematologic cancers. The ability to identify, isolate, propagate and molecularly characterize CTC subpopulations could further the discovery of cancer stem cell biomarkers and expand the understanding of the biology of metastasis. Current strategies for isolating CTCs are limited to complex analytic approaches that generate very low yield and purity. Here we describe the development of a unique microfluidic platform (the 'CTC-chip') capable of efficient and selective separation of viable CTCs from peripheral whole blood samples, mediated by the interaction of target CTCs with antibody (EpCAM)-coated microposts under precisely controlled laminar flow conditions, and without requisite pre-labelling or processing of samples. The CTC-chip successfully identified CTCs in the peripheral blood of patients with metastatic lung, prostate, pancreatic, breast and colon cancer in 115 of 116 (99%) samples, with a range of 5-1,281 CTCs per ml and approximately 50% purity. In addition, CTCs were isolated in 7/7 patients with early-stage prostate cancer. Given the high sensitivity and specificity of the CTC-chip, we tested its potential utility in monitoring response to anti-cancer therapy. In a small cohort of patients with metastatic cancer undergoing systemic treatment, temporal changes in CTC numbers correlated reasonably well with the clinical course of disease as measured by standard radiographic methods. Thus, the CTC-chip provides a new and effective tool for accurate identification and measurement of CTCs in patients with cancer. It has broad implications in advancing both cancer biology research and clinical cancer management, including the detection, diagnosis and monitoring of cancer.
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          Continuous particle separation through deterministic lateral displacement.

          We report on a microfluidic particle-separation device that makes use of the asymmetric bifurcation of laminar flow around obstacles. A particle chooses its path deterministically on the basis of its size. All particles of a given size follow equivalent migration paths, leading to high resolution. The microspheres of 0.8, 0.9, and 1.0 micrometers that were used to characterize the device were sorted in 40 seconds with a resolution of approximately 10 nanometers, which was better than the time and resolution of conventional flow techniques. Bacterial artificial chromosomes could be separated in 10 minutes with a resolution of approximately 12%.
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            Author and article information

            Journal
            Microfluidics and Nanofluidics
            Microfluid Nanofluid
            Springer Nature
            1613-4982
            1613-4990
            April 2015
            August 9 2014
            April 2015
            : 18
            : 4
            : 657-665
            10.1007/s10404-014-1464-1
            © 2015
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