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 Dissolving protein traffic jam at the entrance of mitochondria
23.05.2019 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Producing tissue and organs through lithography
23.05.2019 | 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: Self-repairing batteries

UTokyo engineers develop a way to create high-capacity long-life batteries

Engineers at the University of Tokyo continually pioneer new ways to improve battery technology. Professor Atsuo Yamada and his team recently developed a...

Im Focus: Quantum Cloud Computing with Self-Check

With a quantum coprocessor in the cloud, physicists from Innsbruck, Austria, open the door to the simulation of previously unsolvable problems in chemistry, materials research or high-energy physics. The research groups led by Rainer Blatt and Peter Zoller report in the journal Nature how they simulated particle physics phenomena on 20 quantum bits and how the quantum simulator self-verified the result for the first time.

Many scientists are currently working on investigating how quantum advantage can be exploited on hardware already available today. Three years ago, physicists...

Im Focus: Accelerating quantum technologies with materials processing at the atomic scale

'Quantum technologies' utilise the unique phenomena of quantum superposition and entanglement to encode and process information, with potentially profound benefits to a wide range of information technologies from communications to sensing and computing.

However a major challenge in developing these technologies is that the quantum phenomena are very fragile, and only a handful of physical systems have been...

Im Focus: A step towards probabilistic computing

Working group led by physicist Professor Ulrich Nowak at the University of Konstanz, in collaboration with a team of physicists from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, demonstrates how skyrmions can be used for the computer concepts of the future

When it comes to performing a calculation destined to arrive at an exact result, humans are hopelessly inferior to the computer. In other areas, humans are...

Im Focus: Recording embryonic development

Scientists develop a molecular recording tool that enables in vivo lineage tracing of embryonic cells

The beginning of new life starts with a fascinating process: A single cell gives rise to progenitor cells that eventually differentiate into the three germ...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Producing tissue and organs through lithography

23.05.2019 | Life Sciences

Summit charts a course to uncover the origins of genetic diseases

22.05.2019 | Life Sciences

New study finds distinct microbes living next to corals

22.05.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>