Microfluidics: from clinical diagnostics to organ-on-chip


Microfluidics: from clinical diagnostics to organ-on-chip

Wed, 09/05/2018 - 14:30 to 15:30


Sally Peyman
Leeds University

Microfluidics, also known as ‘Lab on a chip’, is a rapidly advancing technology involving the miniaturisation of fluidic process from bench top macro systems such as beakers and flasks to micron sized channels fabricated in a chip the size of a microscope slide. Fluid in microchannels behaves in a predominantly laminar regime and is highly predictable and controllable. Fluids and objects in flow, such as particles or cells, are therefore easy to manipulate and control compared to larger batch systems. This technology is helping to revolutionise the medical sciences, from providing fast and efficient point-of-care diagnostics to modelling the microenvironment of tumours.
This talk will cover various aspects of my research over the last decade, including:
Microfluidics for clinical diagnostics. Miniaturising fluidic process reduces reagent consumption, and toxic waste but also reduces the lengths scales of the system so that reactions are faster and more efficient. Miniaturising biochemical process, such as immunorecognition, onto a microfluidic platform allows the development of devices capable of performing complex ELISA tests in a matter of seconds in a point-of-care format.
Microfluidics for production of theranostic materials. Microbubbles are small bubbles of heavy gas that are used as contrast agents for ultrasound. We use microfluidics to build therapeutic architectures onto the bubble surface in order to deliver drugs to specific disease areas in the body, such as tumours. Microfluidics allows us to produce very high concentrations of therapeutic microbubbles.
Microfluidics for single cell analysis. Tumour heterogeneity is a complex and poorly understood area of cancer biology and is thought to lead to failure in treatment. While Next Generation Sequencing gives invaluable information on the genotype of cancerous cells, little is known about the physical properties or phenotype of the cells and the relationship of these properties to the progression of disease. We use microfluidics to investigate the mechanical, electrical and chemical phenotype of cells on a single cell basis in order to complement NGS and build up a 3D map of tumour heterogeneity to help inform future therapeutic pathways.
Tumour on chip. The microenvironment of tumours is difficult to reproduce in conventional in vitro models. Microfluidics allows for the growth of cells in microenvironments that much better mimic those found in the body. The control of flow conditions allows for cells to be exposed to different chemical and physical environments in order to rapidly screen candidate therapeutic drugs or to study how changes in local environment affect disease progression.