A Device for Diagnosis and Monitoring of Hematological Disease based on Continuous Separation of Deformed Cells

Applications

  • Diagnosis
  • Monitoring of treatment efficacy for hematological diseases
  • Filter for less deformable cells in a living organism to prevent clogging of capillaries
  • Tool to screen drugs that can make cells more flexible

Problem Addressed

This technology provides methods utilizing a microfluidic device that can quickly and accurately discern differences in deformability between individual cells and sets of cells and continuously fractionate populations of cells based on their deformability.

Technology

Change in cell stiffness is a characteristic of several hematological diseases, including malaria, sickle cell anemia and leukemia. Often, increase in blood cell stiffness leads to loss of the cells' ability to squeeze through capillaries, resulting in anemia, systemic inflammation, possibly organ failure, and ultimately death. Changes in blood cell stiffness can also be caused by iron toxicity and other common medications. The current technology is a microfluidic device that can quickly and accurately discern differences in deformability between individual cells and types of cells and continuously fractionate populations of cells based on their deformability. This information may be important in disease diagnosis and treatment efficacy monitoring. For example, this device may be able to determine the stage of malarial infection by using red blood cell deformability. It is a 2-dimensional separation device that consists of a parallel array of slits. Fluid movement is diagonal, so that cells that are less deformable will travel along the entrance of a slit, while cells that are more deformable will travel in the direction of fluid movement. In this way, less and more deformable cells separate into separate streams that can be collected at the end of the central region. Other mechanical methods of separating cells create local energy minimia, which cause less deformable cells to clog and stop the device from working. The current method lacks local energy minima, resulting in cells sliding along the slit entrance to the end of the channel.

Advantages

  • Differentiation between a single cell and types of cells by their deformability
  • Continuous fractionation of cells based on their deformability
  • Cell separation at a  rate of 0.01 to 0.1 seconds per cell, compared to 10 seconds per cell for existing devices
  • Devices design overcomes clogging issues
  • Low manufacturing and operation costs, making device suitable for resource-limited settings