Lab-On-A-Chip: Microfluidic Flow Cytometry
Seemingly identical cells are often quite heterogeneous in their chemical composition and biological activity, and in the timing and magnitude of their responses to external stimuli. Determining the chemical composition of individual cells and measuring how that composition changes in response to external stimuli, is therefore key to better understanding basic cellular functions and intra/intercellular communication.
Flow cytometry is a common analysis tool used in modern biology for performing cellular analysis in genetics, disease detection and diagnosis, drug development and cancer research. With the emergence of microfluidic lab-on-a-chip technology, much attention has been focused on microfabricated flow cytometry devices for biological applications. However, even with the latest microfabricated flow cytometers, there are several limitations that hinder wide application of such devices: lack of detailed chemical and biological analysis; limited parameter spaces and inability to differentiate instrument quantification error and biological variability.
A technology developed at the University of Toronto ’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in partnership with the Ontario Cancer Institute specifically addresses the shortcomings of the latest microfluidic based flow cytometry devices. The device combines integrated optical circuits, electrodes, laser induced fluorescence and electrophoresis to provide an integrated, more efficient and lower cost solution that can be used for patient analysis/diagnosis, as well as early disease detection. This device performs on-chip single-cell analysis, an essential component of early disease detection, diagnosis and prognosis.
The lead application is targeted at blood disease, specifically leukemia and lymphoma, thereby enabling more efficient diagnosis/analysis, with the practical benefit of enabling more efficient examinations through distributed point-of-care locations, including physicians’ offices and/or homecare. This technology can also be applied to other various fields-of-use within human health (including HIV, cardiovascular disease, drug development) and beyond (e.g. zoology, forestry and environmental monitoring).
The Flow Cytometry and In Vitro Diagnostics markets are currently worth an estimated US$1 Billion (growing at 6% annually), and US$27 Billion worldwide, respectively. Although a bottom-up forecast needs to be developed, with our leading-edge Lab-On-A-Chip device we could generate over US$1.4 Billion in annual sales by capturing only 5% of these two market segments alone.
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