Nanosecond Laser Cell Lysis in Microfluidic Devices
Background: To date, cell lysis in microfluidic devices for analytical purposes has been achieved using chemical, electrical, and optical means. Chemical cell lysis occurs on time scales of several to tens of seconds and is adequate for analytes whose chemical states change on such time scales. However many biochemical processes within cells occur on sub-second to second time scales including the production of second messenger and signaling lipids or the activation of kinases and phosphatases. Thus faster means for cell lysis are needed for accurate characterization of the biochemical dynamics of these substances on a single cell bases.
Electrical fields may be used to lyse cells on a shorter time scale however the electrodes required for generation of the electric field must be fabricated and integrated into the device. This increases the design complexity and the fabrication cost of single-use microfluidic devices and also limits the location of cell lysis to fixed regions within the device.
Technology: University of California, Irvine researchers have developed and characterized a novel method using laser microbeam delivery to lyse cells in microfluidic channels. This use of laser microbeams allows for reduced design complexity and reduced cost of manufacturing the microfluidic device since the laser may be directed to any optically-accessible location of the microfluidic device. Finally cell lysis may be done on a nanosecond time scale, faster than electrical or chemical lysis. Application: This low-cost and simple method allows scientists to investigate multiple cellular reactions on rapid time scales using microfluidic devices.
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