March 17, 2011
UC Berkeley Bioengineering Professor Luke Lee and his laboratory have made a major advancement in microfluidics research, which could lead to stand-alone, self-powered chips that can diagnose diseases within minutes.
The device, developed by an international team of researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, Dublin City University in Ireland and Universidad de Valparaíso Chile, is able to process whole blood samples without the use of external tubing and extra components. The device, named SIMBAS for Self-powered Integrated Microfluidic Blood Analysis System, appeared as the cover story of the March 7 journal Lab on a Chip.
For the new biochip, the researchers took advantage of the laws of microscale physics to speed up processes that may take hours or days in a traditional lab. The SIMBAS chip uses trenches patterned underneath microfluidic channels that are about the width of a human hair. When whole blood is dropped onto the chip’s inlets, the relatively heavy red and white blood cells settle down into the trenches, separating from the clear blood plasma. In experiments, the researchers were able to capture more than 99 percent of the blood cells in the trenches and selectively separate plasma using this method.
Co-lead authors of the study are Ivan Dimov, UC Berkeley post-doctoral researcher in bioengineering, Lourdes Basabe-Desmonts, senior scientist at Dublin City University’s Biomedical Diagnostics Institute, and Jose L. Garcia-Cordero, currently post-doctoral scientist at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL Switzerland). Antonio J. Ricco, adjunct professor at the Biomedical Diagnostics Institute at Dublin City University, also co-authored the study.
Read more at the UC Berkeley NewsCenter.