Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Magnetism and mimicry of nature hold hope for better medicine, environmental safety

24.07.2006
Critical advances in medicine and environmental protection promise to emerge from a new method for biochemical analysis of fluids developed by an international science team led in part by Arizona State University researchers.

Called "digital magnetofluidics," it promises more rapid, more accurate and less costly analyses of water and biological fluids – blood, urine, saliva – that require only miniscule amounts of fluids.

A detailed explanation of the process is presented in an article published in the July 17 edition of Applied Physics Letters, a leading international journal reporting on significant new findings in physics applied to engineering, technology and other sciences. The article, "Discrete Magnetic Microfluidics," can be viewed online at http://apl.aip.org/.

Digital magnetofluidics enables tiny drops of fluids to be manipulated on a silicon chip in ways that produce clearer pictures of the proteins, DNA, bacteria, viruses and chemicals present in liquids, explains Antonio Garcia, a professor in the Harrington Department of Bioengineering in ASU's Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering.

The new method holds hope for significant improvements in such areas as prognosis and diagnosis of medical conditions and in testing of water sources for environmental hazards, Garcia said.

At ASU, Garcia is among scientists and engineers developing microfluidic and test-surface techniques. The team includes Mark Hayes and Devens Gust, both professors of chemistry and biochemistry, and Tom Picraux, who spent the past four years on the ASU chemical and materials engineering faculty before recently becoming chief scientist for the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies at the Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico.

They were aided by ASU postdoctoral research fellow Solitaire Lindsay and graduate students Dongqing Yang, Pavan Aella and Ana Egatz-Gomez.

The ASU group's work is part of the international effort by the Interdisciplinary Network of Emerging Science and Technology (INEST), directed by Manuel Marquez, an adjunct professor of bioengineering at ASU. He and Lindsay are affiliated with the INEST group research center in Richmond, Va., supported by the Philip Morris USA company.

Marquez, and fellow researchers in Spain, including professors Sonia Melle at Universidad Complutense de Madrid and Miguel Angel Rubio, and graduate student Pablo Dominquez-Garcia at Universidad Nacional de Educacion por Distancia, who have produced the first demonstration of the new technology, are an integral part of the microfluidics project.

The team's findings could have a vast impact on the field of bioanalysis, Hayes says.

The key to the method's effectiveness is using nanoscale surface patterns to create a "superhydrophobic" (or water-repellent) surface on which to collect extremely tiny droplets of fluids – a surface formed by mimicking the natural self-cleaning process exhibited by the leaves of the Lotus plant, Hayes explains.

Water and biological fluids typically bead up like a ball on superhydrophobic surfaces, but the introduction of a magnetic field produced by injecting tiny magnetic particles into the droplets keeps the ball from rolling off the surface.

This allows for the fluids to be controlled through exerting magnetic force, and moved with extreme precision across the tips of nanowires, which are only about 200 atoms in diameter and less than a hundredth of the width of a human hair in length.

"We knew we had the perfect surface on which to analyze drops of blood and other biological fluids because the trapped air between the wires never allows for much of the fluid to come into contact with the surface," Garcia says.

That is crucial to accurate analysis because it prevents the chemicals and other materials in the droplet from combining and reacting with the chemical compounds in the surface material and thereby contaminating the test sample of fluid.

The process is the crux of what the researchers call "lab on a chip" technology, which will enable scientists, health care professionals and environmental experts to obtain precise biochemical test results with only micro-level amounts of fluids.

"By manipulating droplets so carefully and preventing contamination of the samples, we can detect things like signs of disease or environmentally hazardous materials much better," said research associate Lindsay. "We can analyze things using small droplets that normally would require much larger amounts of fluid for testing. This reduces the expense of testing because you don't need large amounts of very expensive chemicals to do the analyses."

Perhaps the most critically important thing the method will help save is time, especially in medical diagnoses. "You might be able to get an analysis of someone's health condition in 15 minutes rather than having it take two days," says Picraux.

Digital magnetofluidics will allow for more compact and portable testing instruments that will work fast and require less power to operate, he says.

It also holds promise for improving public safety and homeland security efforts, Picraux says. The method could aid in more quickly and accurately detecting and analyzing dangerous chemicals if they were intentionally introduced into a public environment. It also could improve monitoring systems in factories and other industrial operations where potentially hazardous chemicals are in use.

The research can accelerate the development of microfluidic devices that would, for instance, allow as many as 20 to 30 various tests to be performed using a single, tiny drop of blood.

A major goal is to refine the technology to create point-of-care devices that would provide rapid diagnoses for people who live far from hospitals, or in cases of emergency medical care in which there is an urgent need for speedy medical analysis.

Such technologies can also give the pharmaceutical industry improved ways to screen for new drugs by being able to run several types of tests simultaneously on an extremely small scale.

The next step in developing this technology is under way in Hayes' laboratory and through the team's collaboration with Joseph Wang, a professor in the Fulton School's Department of Chemical Engineering.

Wang's research group at ASU's Biodesign Institute is developing complementary electrical analysis methods and Hayes is applying optical strategies to rapidly measure amounts of significant biochemicals and proteins. The measurement of dopamine and other biological indicators of stress and acute indicators of heart attacks are of particular interest to medical research.

Joe Kullman | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.asu.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte
17.08.2018 | Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT)

nachricht Protecting the power grid: Advanced plasma switch for more efficient transmission
17.08.2018 | DOE/Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte

17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation

17.08.2018 | Information Technology

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>