Integrated acoustic cell lysis module for point-of-care format

Cells are the fundamental units of any living organism containing the genetic information necessary for its growth and functioning. The outer boundary of the cell, known as the cell membrane, needs to be broken down in order to study intracellular substances, such as DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), RNA (ribonucleic acid), protein, or organelles that are of interest in biomedical assays. The process is known as cell lysis, and it is a significant and necessary aspect of molecular diagnostics, drug screening, mRNA (messenger RNA) transcriptome determination, and structural study of certain proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids. The traditional methods for cell lysis are mechanical disruption, liquid homogenization, high-frequency sound waves, and reagent-based (chemical) methods, which are labour-intensive and time-consuming. Microfluidics can be very useful in this case for making the process efficient and quick since it uses just a very small amount of liquid for analysis, resulting in high productivity, easy operation, and low costs.
A number of microfluidic methods and possibilities for cell lysis have been reported in the literature, including chemical lysis, mechanical lysis, thermal lysis, electrical methods, and acoustic and electrochemical methods. Professor Maiwenn Kersaudy-Kerhoas' group is working on the development of a microfluidic cell lysis platform that will lyse cells of interest by implementing high shear stress on the cells caused by acoustic vibration and sophisticated microfluidic structures. Excessive shear stress, however, can damage the intracellular substances, causing disruptions during downstream analysis. The risk can be mitigated by carefully controlling the cell exposure times under stress. The student will work with the Kersaudy-Kerhoas group, as an experimentalist, to develop a low-cost continuous fluid delivery system (e.g., balloon pressure pump, peristaltic pump) to process small volume samples (50 μL-500 μL) through microfluidic devices. This low-cost pump will be tested with 2D and 3D microfluidic structures that can be manufactured using a variety of fabrication methods such as 3D printing, photolithography and laser-cutting.

Reference: Conde et al, Lab On A Chip, 2020, https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2020/lc/c9lc01130g

Supervisor name: 
Maiwenn Kersaudy-Kerhoas
Supervisor and Deputy email addresses: 
m.kersaudy-kerhoas@hw.ac.uk
Project location: 
JN 1.26
Restrictions: 
Student will need their Hep B vaccination up to date