Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New automated biological-sample analysis systems to accelerate disease detection

18.04.2019

A 100% Québec discovery made at Polytechnique Montréal in partnership with McGill University

FROM CONVENTIONAL MICROFLUIDICS TO OPEN-SPACE MICROFLUIDICS


Illustration of the mathematical transforms used, first on the image of a chessboard, then on microfluidic multipoles.

Credit: Polytechnique Montréal and McGill University

Microfluidics refers to the manipulation of fluids in microscale devices. Commonly called "labs on a chip," microfluidic systems are used to study and analyze very small-scale chemical or biological samples, replacing the extremely expensive and cumbersome instruments used for traditional biological analyses. Listed in 2001 among the "10 Emerging Technologies That Will Change the World" by the MIT Technology Review, microfluidics is considered just as revolutionary for biology and chemistry as microprocessors have been to electronics and IT, and it applies to a huge market.

Today, this young discipline, which began to take off in the 2000s with closed systems made up of microchannel networks, is itself being radically transformed by the discovery made by the group of researchers from Polytechnique and McGill University, which reinforces the theoretical and experimental foundations of open-space microfluidics.

This technology, which eliminates channels, competes favourably with conventional microfluidics for certain types of analyses. Indeed, the classical configuration of closed-channel microfluidic devices provides several disadvantages: the scale of the channel cross-sections increases the stress that cells undergo when they are culture; and they are not compatible with the cell-culture standard, the Petri dish, which makes it hard for the industry to adopt it.

The new approach explored by Polytechnique and McGill University researchers is based on microfluidic multipoles (MFMs), a system of simultaneous fluid suction and aspiration through opposing micro-openings on a very small surface placed in a confined space that is less than 0.1 mm thick. "When they come into contact with one another, these jets of fluid form patterns that can be seen by dyeing them with chemical reagents," says Professor Gervais. "We wanted to understand these patterns while developing a reliable method for modelling MFMs."

ELEGANT VISUAL SYMMETRY REMINISCENT OF THE WORK OF ARTIST M. C. ESCHER

To understand these patterns, Professor Gervais's team had to develop a new mathematical model for open multipolar flows. This model is based on a classical branch of mathematics known as conformal mapping that solves a problem related to a complex geometry by reducing it to a simpler geometry (and vice-versa).

PhD student Étienne Boulais first developed a model to study microjet collisions in a multifluidic dipole (an MFM with only two openings), and then, relying on this mathematical theory, extrapolated the model to MFMs with multiple openings. "We can make an analogy with a game of chess in which there is a version with four players, then six or eight, applying a spatial deformation while maintaining the same rules of the game," he explains.

"When subjected to conformal mapping, the patterns created by fluid jet collisions form symmetrical images reminiscent of the paintings of Dutch artist M.C. Escher," adds the young researcher, who has a passion for visual arts. "But far beyond its aesthetic appeal, our model allows us to describe the speed with which molecules move through fluids as well as their concentration. We have defined valid rules for all possible systems configurations of up to 12 poles in order to generate a wide variety of flow and diffusion patterns."

The method is therefore a complete toolbox that will not only make it possible to model and explain the phenomena occurring in MFMs, but also explore new configurations. Thanks to this method, it is now possible to automate open-space microfluidic tests, which up until now have only ever been explored through trial and error.

FABRICATION OF THE DEVICE USING 3D PRINTING

The design and manufacture of the MFM device was accomplished by Pierre-Alexandre Goyette. This device is a small probe made out of resin using a low-cost 3D printing process and connected to a system of pumps and injectors.

"The expertise of Professor Juncker's team in the detection of proteins by antibodies immobilized on a surface has been invaluable in managing the biological aspects of this project," says the PhD student in biomedical engineering. "The results obtained with assays validated the accuracy of the models developed by my colleague Étienne."

The device allows for the simultaneous use of several reagents to detect various molecules in the same sample, which saves biologists valuable time. For certain types of tests, the analysis time could be reduced from several days to a few hours, or even a matter of minutes. In addition, the versatility of this technology should make it usable for various analytical processes, including immunological and DNA tests.

TOWARD A MICROFLUIDIC DISPLAY?

Professor Gervais's team is already considering a next step in his project: the development of a screen displaying a chemical image.

"It would be a sort of chemical equivalent of the liquid-crystal display," Professor Gervais explains. "In the same way that we move electrons across a screen, we would send jets of fluid at various concentrations that would react with a surface. Together, they would form an image. We are very excited to move forward with this project, for which we have obtained a provisional patent."

REINVENTION OF DIAGNOSTIC PROCEDURES AND MEDICAL-TREATMENT FOLLOW-UP

For now, the technology developed by this research team is aimed at the fundamental research market. "Our processes make it possible to expose cells to many reagents simultaneously," Professor Gervais says. "They can help biologists study the interactions between proteins and reagents on a large scale, increasing the amount and quality of information obtained during assays."

He explains that subsequently, the pharmaceutical market will also be able to benefit from new methods of screening-system automation resulting from the discovery. Lastly, it opens up a new avenue for drug discovery by facilitating patient cell culture and exposure to various drug agents to determine which ones they respond to best.

Media Contact

Florence Scanvic
florence.scanvic@polymtl.ca
514-340-4711

 @polymtl

http://www.polymtl.ca 

Florence Scanvic | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-09740-7

Further reports about: Polytechnique collisions disease detection fluids geometry microfluidic proteins

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Antibiotics: New substances break bacterial resistance
12.11.2019 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

nachricht How the Zika virus can spread
11.11.2019 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Magnets for the second dimension

If you've ever tried to put several really strong, small cube magnets right next to each other on a magnetic board, you'll know that you just can't do it. What happens is that the magnets always arrange themselves in a column sticking out vertically from the magnetic board. Moreover, it's almost impossible to join several rows of these magnets together to form a flat surface. That's because magnets are dipolar. Equal poles repel each other, with the north pole of one magnet always attaching itself to the south pole of another and vice versa. This explains why they form a column with all the magnets aligned the same way.

Now, scientists at ETH Zurich have managed to create magnetic building blocks in the shape of cubes that - for the first time ever - can be joined together to...

Im Focus: A new quantum data classification protocol brings us nearer to a future 'quantum internet'

The algorithm represents a first step in the automated learning of quantum information networks

Quantum-based communication and computation technologies promise unprecedented applications, such as unconditionally secure communications, ultra-precise...

Im Focus: Distorted Atoms

In two experiments performed at the free-electron laser FLASH in Hamburg a cooperation led by physicists from the Heidelberg Max Planck Institute for Nuclear physics (MPIK) demonstrated strongly-driven nonlinear interaction of ultrashort extreme-ultraviolet (XUV) laser pulses with atoms and ions. The powerful excitation of an electron pair in helium was found to compete with the ultrafast decay, which temporarily may even lead to population inversion. Resonant transitions in doubly charged neon ions were shifted in energy, and observed by XUV-XUV pump-probe transient absorption spectroscopy.

An international team led by physicists from the MPIK reports on new results for efficient two-electron excitations in helium driven by strong and ultrashort...

Im Focus: A Memory Effect at Single-Atom Level

An international research group has observed new quantum properties on an artificial giant atom and has now published its results in the high-ranking journal Nature Physics. The quantum system under investigation apparently has a memory - a new finding that could be used to build a quantum computer.

The research group, consisting of German, Swedish and Indian scientists, has investigated an artificial quantum system and found new properties.

Im Focus: Shedding new light on the charging of lithium-ion batteries

Exposing cathodes to light decreases charge time by a factor of two in lithium-ion batteries.

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory have reported a new mechanism to speed up the charging of lithium-ion...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

High entropy alloys for hot turbines and tireless metal-forming presses

05.11.2019 | Event News

Smart lasers open up new applications and are the “tool of choice” in digitalization

30.10.2019 | Event News

International Symposium on Functional Materials for Electrolysis, Fuel Cells and Metal-Air Batteries

02.10.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Magnets for the second dimension

12.11.2019 | Machine Engineering

New efficiency world record for organic solar modules

12.11.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Non-volatile control of magnetic anisotropy through change of electric polarization

12.11.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>