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by Keyword: Microfluidic

López-Canosa, Adrián, Pérez-Amodio, Soledad, Engel, Elisabeth, Castaño, Oscar, (2022). Microfluidic 3D Platform to Evaluate Endothelial Progenitor Cell Recruitment by Bioactive Materials Acta Biomaterialia 151, 264-277

Fernández‐Costa, Juan M., Ortega, María A., Rodríguez‐Comas, Júlia, Lopez‐Muñoz, Gerardo, Yeste, Jose, Mangas‐Florencio, Lluís, Fernández‐González, Miriam, Martin‐Lasierra, Eduard, Tejedera‐Villafranca, Ainoa, Ramon‐Azcon, Javier, (2022). Training-on-a-Chip: A MultiOrgan Device to Study the Effect of Muscle Exercise on Insulin Secretion in Vitro Advanced Materials Technologies , 2200873

Subirada, F, Paoli, R, Sierra-Agudelo, J, Lagunas, A, Rodriguez-Trujillo, R, Samitier, J, (2022). Development of a Custom-Made 3D Printing Protocol with Commercial Resins for Manufacturing Microfluidic Devices Polymers 14, 2955

The combination of microfluidics and photo-polymerization techniques such as stereolithography (SLA) has emerged as a new field which has a lot of potential to influence in such important areas as biological analysis, and chemical detection among others. However, the integration between them is still at an early stage of development. In this article, after analyzing the resolution of a custom SLA 3D printer with commercial resins, microfluidic devices were manufactured using three different approaches. First, printing a mold with the objective of creating a Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) replica with the microfluidic channels; secondly, open channels have been printed and then assembled with a flat cover of the same resin material. Finally, a closed microfluidic device has also been produced in a single process of printing. Important results for 3D printing with commercial resins have been achieved by only printing one layer on top of the channel. All microfluidic devices have been tested successfully for pressure-driven fluid flow.

JTD Keywords: 3d printing, Additive manufacturing, Microfluidics, Photo-curable polymers, Stereolithography


Sierra-Agudelo J, Rodriguez-Trujillo R, Samitier J, (2022). Microfluidics for the Isolation and Detection of Circulating Tumor Cells Microfluidics And Biosensors In Cancer Research 1379, 389-412

Nowadays, liquid biopsy represents one of the most promising techniques for early diagnosis, monitoring, and therapy screening of cancer. This novel methodology includes, among other techniques, the isolation, capture, and analysis of circulating tumor cells (CTCs). Nonetheless, the identification of CTC from whole blood is challenging due to their extremely low concentration (1-100 per ml of whole blood), and traditional methods result insufficient in terms of purity, recovery, throughput and/or viability of the processed sample. In this context, the development of microfluidic devices for detecting and isolating CTCs offers a wide range of new opportunities due to their excellent properties for cell manipulation and the advantages to integrate and bring different laboratory processes into the microscale improving the sensitivity, portability, reducing cost and time. This chapter explores current and recent microfluidic approaches that have been developed for the analysis and detection of CTCs, which involve cell capture methods based on affinity binding and label-free methods and detection based on electrical, chemical, and optical sensors. All the exposed technologies seek to overcome the limitations of commercial systems for the analysis and isolation of CTCs, as well as to provide extended analysis that will allow the development of novel and more efficient diagnostic tools.© 2022. The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.

JTD Keywords: Cancer detection, Cancer diagnosis, Circulating tumor cells, Liquid biopsy, Microfluidics


Comelles J, Castillo-Fernández Ó, Martínez E, (2022). How to Get Away with Gradients Microfluidics And Biosensors In Cancer Research 1379, 31-54

Biomolecular gradients are widely present in multiple biological processes. Historically they were reproduced in vitro by using micropipettes, Boyden and Zigmond chambers, or hydrogels. Despite the great utility of these setups in the study of gradient-related problems such as chemotaxis, they face limitations when trying to translate more complex in vivo-like scenarios to in vitro systems. In the last 20 years, the advances in manufacturing of micromechanical systems (MEMS) had opened the possibility of applying this technology to biology (BioMEMS). In particular, microfluidics has proven extremely efficient in setting-up biomolecular gradients which are stable, controllable, reproducible and at length scales that are relevant to cells. In this chapter, we give an overview of different methods to generate molecular gradients using microfluidics, then we discuss the different steps of the pipeline to fabricate a gradient generator microfluidic device, and at the end, we show an application example of the fabrication of a microfluidic device that can be used to generate a surface-bound biomolecular gradient.© 2022. The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.

JTD Keywords: Biomems, Gradient, Microfabrication, Microfluidics, Nanotechnology


Rodríguez-Comas, Júlia, Ramón-Azcón, Javier, (2022). Islet-on-a-chip for the study of pancreatic beta-cell function In Vitro Models 1, 41-57

Diabetes mellitus is a significant public health problem worldwide. It encompasses a group of chronic disorders characterized by hyperglycemia, resulting from pancreatic islet dysfunction or as a consequence of insulin-producing ?-cell death. Organ-on-a-chip platforms have emerged as technological systems combining cell biology, engineering, and biomaterial technological advances with microfluidics to recapitulate a specific organ’s physiological or pathophysiological environment. These devices offer a novel model for the screening of pharmaceutical agents and to study a particular disease. In the field of diabetes, a variety of microfluidic devices have been introduced to recreate native islet microenvironments and to understand pancreatic ?-cell kinetics in vitro. This kind of platforms has been shown fundamental for the study of the islet function and to assess the quality of these islets for subsequent in vivo transplantation. However, islet physiological systems are still limited compared to other organs and tissues, evidencing the difficulty to study this “organ” and the need for further technological advances. In this review, we summarize the current state of islet-on-a-chip platforms that have been developed so far. We recapitulate the most relevant studies involving pancreatic islets and microfluidics, focusing on the molecular and cellular-scale activities that underlie pancreatic ?-cell function.

JTD Keywords: pancreatic islets, Diabetes, Microchips, Microfluidics


Llenas M, Paoli R, Feiner-Gracia N, Albertazzi L, Samitier J, Caballero D, (2021). Versatile vessel-on-a-chip platform for studying key features of blood vascular tumors Bioengineering (Basel) 8,

Tumor vessel-on-a-chip systems have attracted the interest of the cancer research community due to their ability to accurately recapitulate the multiple dynamic events of the metastatic cascade. Vessel-on-a-chip microfluidic platforms have been less utilized for investigating the distinctive features and functional heterogeneities of tumor-derived vascular networks. In particular, vascular tumors are characterized by the massive formation of thrombi and severe bleeding, a rare and life-threatening situation for which there are yet no clear therapeutic guidelines. This is mainly due to the lack of technological platforms capable of reproducing these characteristic traits of the pathology in a simple and well-controlled manner. Herein, we report the fabrication of a versatile tumor vessel-on-a-chip platform to reproduce, investigate, and characterize the massive formation of thrombi and hemorrhage on-chip in a fast and easy manner. Despite its simplicity, this method offers multiple advantages to recapitulate the pathophysiological events of vascular tumors, and therefore, may find useful applications in the field of vascular-related diseases, while at the same time being an alternative to more complex approaches. © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

JTD Keywords: in vitro model, microfluidics, organ-on-chip, vascular tumor, vessel, In vitro model, Microfluidics, Organ-on-chip, Vascular tumor, Vessel


Ortega MA, Rodríguez-Comas J, Yavas O, Velasco-Mallorquí F, Balaguer-Trias J, Parra V, Novials A, Servitja JM, Quidant R, Ramón-Azcón J, (2021). In Situ LSPR Sensing of Secreted Insulin in Organ-on-Chip Biosensors 11,

Organ-on-a-chip (OOC) devices offer new approaches for metabolic disease modeling and drug discovery by providing biologically relevant models of tissues and organs in vitro with a high degree of control over experimental variables for high-content screening applications. Yet, to fully exploit the potential of these platforms, there is a need to interface them with integrated non-labeled sensing modules, capable of monitoring, in situ, their biochemical response to external stimuli, such as stress or drugs. In order to meet this need, we aim here to develop an integrated technology based on coupling a localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) sensing module to an OOC device to monitor the insulin in situ secretion in pancreatic islets, a key physiological event that is usually perturbed in metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes (T2D). As a proof of concept, we developed a biomimetic islet-on-a-chip (IOC) device composed of mouse pancreatic islets hosted in a cellulose-based scaffold as a novel approach. The IOC was interfaced with a state-of-the-art on-chip LSPR sensing platform to monitor the in situ insulin secretion. The developed platform offers a powerful tool to enable the in situ response study of microtissues to external stimuli for applications such as a drug-screening platform for human models, bypassing animal testing.

JTD Keywords: biosensor, cytoarchitecture, dna hybridization, gelatin, in situ insulin monitoring, langerhans, lspr sensors, microfluidic device, organ-on-a-chip, parallel, platform, scaffold, Human pancreatic-islets, In situ insulin monitoring, Lspr sensors, Organ-on-a-chip


Vera D, García-Díaz M, Torras N, Álvarez M, Villa R, Martinez E, (2021). Engineering Tissue Barrier Models on Hydrogel Microfluidic Platforms Acs Applied Materials & Interfaces 13, 13920-13933

Tissue barriers play a crucial role in human physiology by establishing tissue compartmentalization and regulating organ homeostasis. At the interface between the extracellular matrix (ECM) and flowing fluids, epithelial and endothelial barriers are responsible for solute and gas exchange. In the past decade, microfluidic technologies and organ-on-chip devices became popular as in vitro models able to recapitulate these biological barriers. However, in conventional microfluidic devices, cell barriers are primarily grown on hard polymeric membranes within polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) channels that do not mimic the cell-ECM interactions nor allow the incorporation of other cellular compartments such as stromal tissue or vascular structures. To develop models that accurately account for the different cellular and acellular compartments of tissue barriers, researchers have integrated hydrogels into microfluidic setups for tissue barrier-on-chips, either as cell substrates inside the chip, or as self-contained devices. These biomaterials provide the soft mechanical properties of tissue barriers and allow the embedding of stromal cells. Combining hydrogels with microfluidics technology provides unique opportunities to better recreate in vitro the tissue barrier models including the cellular components and the functionality of the in vivo tissues. Such platforms have the potential of greatly improving the predictive capacities of the in vitro systems in applications such as drug development, or disease modeling. Nevertheless, their development is not without challenges in their microfabrication. In this review, we will discuss the recent advances driving the fabrication of hydrogel microfluidic platforms and their applications in multiple tissue barrier models.

JTD Keywords: hydrogel, microfabrication, microfluidics, organ-on-chip, tissue barrier, Hydrogel, Microfabrication, Microfluidics, Organ-on-chip, Tissue barrier


Ebrahimi N, Bi C, Cappelleri DJ, Ciuti G, Conn AT, Faivre D, Habibi N, Hošovský A, Iacovacci V, Khalil ISM, Magdanz V, Misra S, Pawashe C, Rashidifar R, Soto-Rodriguez PED, Fekete Z, Jafari A, (2021). Magnetic Actuation Methods in Bio/Soft Robotics Advanced Functional Materials 31,

© 2020 Wiley-VCH GmbH In recent years, magnetism has gained an enormous amount of interest among researchers for actuating different sizes and types of bio/soft robots, which can be via an electromagnetic-coil system, or a system of moving permanent magnets. Different actuation strategies are used in robots with magnetic actuation having a number of advantages in possible realization of microscale robots such as bioinspired microrobots, tetherless microrobots, cellular microrobots, or even normal size soft robots such as electromagnetic soft robots and medical robots. This review provides a summary of recent research in magnetically actuated bio/soft robots, discussing fabrication processes and actuation methods together with relevant applications in biomedical area and discusses future prospects of this way of actuation for possible improvements in performance of different types of bio/soft robots.

JTD Keywords: capsule endoscope, controlled propulsion, conventional gastroscopy, digital microfluidics, guided capsule, liquid-metal, magnetic drug delivery, magnetic microrobots, magnetically guided capsule endoscopy, magnetotactic bacteria, nanoscribe ip-dip, navigation system, Gallium-indium egain, Magnetic bioinspired micromanipulation, Magnetic drug delivery, Magnetic microrobots, Magnetically guided capsule endoscopy, Magnetotactic bacteria


Paoli R, Di Giuseppe D, Badiola-Mateos M, Martinelli E, Lopez-Martinez MJ, Samitier J, (2021). Rapid manufacturing of multilayered microfluidic devices for organ on a chip applications Sensors 21,

© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Microfabrication and Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) soft-lithography techniques became popular for microfluidic prototyping at the lab, but even after protocol optimization, fabrication is yet a long, laborious process and partly user-dependent. Furthermore, the time and money required for the master fabrication process, necessary at any design upgrade, is still elevated. Digital Manufacturing (DM) and Rapid-Prototyping (RP) for microfluidics applications arise as a solution to this and other limitations of photo and soft-lithography fabrication techniques. Particularly for this paper, we will focus on the use of subtractive DM techniques for Organ-on-a-Chip (OoC) applications. Main available thermoplastics for microfluidics are suggested as material choices for device fabrication. The aim of this review is to explore DM and RP technologies for fabrication of an OoC with an embedded membrane after the evaluation of the main limitations of PDMS soft-lithography strategy. Different material options are also reviewed, as well as various bonding strategies. Finally, a new functional OoC device is showed, defining protocols for its fabrication in Cyclic Olefin Polymer (COP) using two different RP technologies. Different cells are seeded in both sides of the membrane as a proof of concept to test the optical and fluidic properties of the device.

JTD Keywords: digital manufacturing, microfluidics, organ on a chip, rapid prototyping, Digital manufacturing, Microfluidics, Organ on a chip, Rapid prototyping


Feiner-Gracia N, Glinkowska Mares A, Buzhor M, Rodriguez-Trujillo R, Samitier Marti J, Amir RJ, Pujals S, Albertazzi L, (2021). Real-Time Ratiometric Imaging of Micelles Assembly State in a Microfluidic Cancer-on-a-Chip Acs Applied Bio Materials 4, 669-681

© 2020 American Chemical Society. The performance of supramolecular nanocarriers as drug delivery systems depends on their stability in the complex and dynamic biological media. After administration, nanocarriers are challenged by physiological barriers such as shear stress and proteins present in blood, endothelial wall, extracellular matrix, and eventually cancer cell membrane. While early disassembly will result in a premature drug release, extreme stability of the nanocarriers can lead to poor drug release and low efficiency. Therefore, comprehensive understanding of the stability and assembly state of supramolecular carriers in each stage of delivery is the key factor for the rational design of these systems. One of the main challenges is that current 2D in vitro models do not provide exhaustive information, as they fail to recapitulate the 3D tumor microenvironment. This deficiency in the 2D model complexity is the main reason for the differences observed in vivo when testing the performance of supramolecular nanocarriers. Herein, we present a real-time monitoring study of self-assembled micelles stability and extravasation, combining spectral confocal microscopy and a microfluidic cancer-on-a-chip. The combination of advanced imaging and a reliable 3D model allows tracking of micelle disassembly by following the spectral properties of the amphiphiles in space and time during the crucial steps of drug delivery. The spectrally active micelles were introduced under flow and their position and conformation continuously followed by spectral imaging during the crossing of barriers, revealing the interplay between carrier structure, micellar stability, and extravasation. Integrating the ability of the micelles to change their fluorescent properties when disassembled, spectral confocal imaging and 3D microfluidic tumor blood vessel-on-a-chip resulted in the establishment of a robust testing platform suitable for real-time imaging and evaluation of supramolecular drug delivery carrier's stability.

JTD Keywords: cancer-on-a-chip, complex, delivery, endothelial-cells, in-vitro, microfluidic, model, nanoparticle, penetration, shear-stress, stability, supramolecular, Cancer-on-a-chip, Cell-culture, Micelle, Microfluidic, Nanoparticle, Stability, Supramolecular


Williams, I., Lee, S., Apriceno, A., Sear, R. P., Battaglia, G., (2020). Diffusioosmotic and convective flows induced by a nonelectrolyte concentration gradient Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 117, (41), 25263-25271

Glucose is an important energy source in our bodies, and its consumption results in gradients over length scales ranging from the subcellular to entire organs. Concentration gradients can drive material transport through both diffusioosmosis and convection. Convection arises because concentration gradients are mass density gradients. Diffusioosmosis is fluid flow induced by the interaction between a solute and a solid surface. A concentration gradient parallel to a surface creates an osmotic pressure gradient near the surface, resulting in flow. Diffusioosmosis is well understood for electrolyte solutes, but is more poorly characterized for nonelectrolytes such as glucose. We measure fluid flow in glucose gradients formed in a millimeter-long thin channel and find that increasing the gradient causes a crossover from diffusioosmosis-dominated to convection-dominated flow. We cannot explain this with established theories of these phenomena which predict that both scale linearly. In our system, the convection speed is linear in the gradient, but the diffusioosmotic speed has a much weaker concentration dependence and is large even for dilute solutions. We develop existing models and show that a strong surface-solute interaction, a heterogeneous surface, and accounting for a concentration-dependent solution viscosity can explain our data. This demonstrates how sensitive nonelectrolyte diffusioosmosis is to surface and solution properties and to surface-solute interactions. A comprehensive understanding of this sensitivity is required to understand transport in biological systems on length scales from micrometers to millimeters where surfaces are invariably complex and heterogeneous.

JTD Keywords: Convection, Diffusioosmosis, Microfluidics


Ruiz-Vega, G., Arias-Alpízar, K., de la Serna, E., Borgheti-Cardoso, L. N., Sulleiro, E., Molina, I., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., Sánchez-Montalvá, A., del Campo, F. J., Baldrich, E., (2020). Electrochemical POC device for fast malaria quantitative diagnosis in whole blood by using magnetic beads, Poly-HRP and microfluidic paper electrodes Biosensors and Bioelectronics 150, 111925

Malaria, a parasitic infection caused by Plasmodium parasites and transmitted through the bite of infected female Anopheles mosquitos, is one of the main causes of mortality in many developing countries. Over 200 million new infections and nearly half a million deaths are reported each year, and more than three billion people are at risk of acquiring malaria worldwide. Nevertheless, most malaria cases could be cured if detected early. Malaria eradication is a top priority of the World Health Organisation. However, achieving this goal will require mass population screening and treatment, which will be hard to accomplish with current diagnostic tools. We report an electrochemical point-of-care device for the fast, simple and quantitative detection of Plasmodium falciparum lactate dehydrogenase (PfLDH) in whole blood samples. Sample analysis includes 5-min lysis to release intracellular parasites, and stirring for 5 more min with immuno-modified magnetic beads (MB) along with an immuno-modified signal amplifier. The rest of the magneto-immunoassay, including sample filtration, MB washing and electrochemical detection, is performed at a disposable paper electrode microfluidic device. The sensor provides PfLDH quantitation down to 2.47 ng mL−1 in spiked samples and for 0.006–1.5% parasitemias in Plasmodium-infected cultured red blood cells, and discrimination between healthy individuals and malaria patients presenting parasitemias >0.3%. Quantitative malaria diagnosis is attained with little user intervention, which is not achieved by other diagnostic methods.

JTD Keywords: Electrochemical magneto-immunosensor, Malaria quantitative diagnosis, Paper microfluidic electrode, Plasmodium LDH, Point-of-care (POC) testing


Sala-Jarque, Julia, Mesquida-Veny, Francina, Badiola-Mateos, Maider, Samitier, Josep, Hervera, Arnau, del Río, José Antonio, (2020). Neuromuscular activity induces paracrine signaling and triggers axonal regrowth after injury in microfluidic lab-on-chip devices Cells 9, (2), 302

Peripheral nerve injuries, including motor neuron axonal injury, often lead to functional impairments. Current therapies are mostly limited to surgical intervention after lesion, yet these interventions have limited success in restoring functionality. Current activity-based therapies after axonal injuries are based on trial-error approaches in which the details of the underlying cellular and molecular processes are largely unknown. Here we show the effects of the modulation of both neuronal and muscular activity with optogenetic approaches to assess the regenerative capacity of cultured motor neuron (MN) after lesion in a compartmentalized microfluidic-assisted axotomy device. With increased neuronal activity, we observed an increase in the ratio of regrowing axons after injury in our peripheral-injury model. Moreover, increasing muscular activity induces the liberation of leukemia inhibitory factor and glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor in a paracrine fashion that in turn triggers axonal regrowth of lesioned MN in our 3D hydrogel cultures. The relevance of our findings as well as the novel approaches used in this study could be useful not only after axotomy events but also in diseases affecting MN survival.

JTD Keywords: Neuromuscular junction, Microfluidics, Axotomy, Paracrine signaling


del Rio, Jose A., Ferrer, Isidre, (2020). Potential of microfluidics and lab-on-chip platforms to improve understanding of “prion-like” protein assembly and behavior Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology 8, 570692

Human aging is accompanied by a relevant increase in age-associated chronic pathologies, including neurodegenerative and metabolic diseases. The appearance and evolution of numerous neurodegenerative diseases is paralleled by the appearance of intracellular and extracellular accumulation of misfolded proteins in affected brains. In addition, recent evidence suggests that most of these amyloid proteins can behave and propagate among neural cells similarly to infective prions. In order to improve understanding of the seeding and spreading processes of these “prion-like” amyloids, microfluidics and 3D lab-on-chip approaches have been developed as highly valuable tools. These techniques allow us to monitor changes in cellular and molecular processes responsible for amyloid seeding and cell spreading and their parallel effects in neural physiology. Their compatibility with new optical and biochemical techniques and their relative availability have increased interest in them and in their use in numerous laboratories. In addition, recent advances in stem cell research in combination with microfluidic platforms have opened new humanized in vitro models for myriad neurodegenerative diseases affecting different cellular targets of the vascular, muscular, and nervous systems, and glial cells. These new platforms help reduce the use of animal experimentation. They are more reproducible and represent a potential alternative to classical approaches to understanding neurodegeneration. In this review, we summarize recent progress in neurobiological research in “prion-like” protein using microfluidic and 3D lab-on-chip approaches. These approaches are driven by various fields, including chemistry, biochemistry, and cell biology, and they serve to facilitate the development of more precise human brain models for basic mechanistic studies of cell-to-cell interactions and drug discovery.

JTD Keywords: Lab-On-Chip, Amyloid propagation, Microfluidics, Fibril, Seeding, Spreading, Prion-like, Prionoid


Kaang, Byung Kwon, Mestre, Rafael, Kang, Dong-Chang, Sánchez, Samuel, Kim, Dong-Pyo, (2020). Scalable and integrated flow synthesis of triple-responsive nano-motors via microfluidic Pickering emulsification Applied Materials Today 21, 100854

Artificial micro-/nano-motors are tiny machines as newly emerging tools capable of achieving numerous tasks. In principle, the self-phoretic motions require asymmetric structures in geometry and chemistry. However, conventional production techniques suffered from complex and time consuming multi-step process in low uniformity, and difficult to endow multi-functions into motors. This work disclosed a continuous-flow synthesis of triple-responsive (thermophoretic, chemical and magnetic movement) nano-motors (m-SiO2/Fe3O4-Pdop/Pt) via microfluidic Pickering emulsification in a process of integrated and scalable manner. The droplet microfluidic process allows efficient self-assembly of the silica nanoparticles surrounding the spherical interface of resin droplet, rendering excellent Pickering efficiency and reproducibility, and followed by anisotropic decoration of polydopamine (Pdop) and Pt catalyst in a serial flow process. The obtained Janus nanoparticles reveal double- or triple-responsive self-propulsions with synergic mobility by combining thermophoresis powered by light, catalytic driven motion in H2O2 or magnetic movement by magnet. Further, a non-metallic polydopamine based thermophoretic motion as well as an automated nano-cleaner for rapid water purification by dye removal are convincingly functioned. Finally, this novel integrated flow strategy proves a scalable manufacturing production (> 0.7 g hr−1) of the nano-motors using inexpensive single microreactor, fulfilling quantitative and qualitative needs for versatile applications.

JTD Keywords: Microfluidics Pickering emulsions, Triple-responsive motor, Adsorbent


Sierra, J., Marrugo-Ramírez, J., Rodriguez-Trujillo, R., Mir, M., Samitier, J., (2020). Sensor-integrated microfluidic approaches for liquid biopsies applications in early detection of cancer Sensors 20, (5), 1317

Cancer represents one of the conditions with the most causes of death worldwide. Common methods for its diagnosis are based on tissue biopsies—the extraction of tissue from the primary tumor, which is used for its histological analysis. However, this technique represents a risk for the patient, along with being expensive and time-consuming and so it cannot be frequently used to follow the progress of the disease. Liquid biopsy is a new cancer diagnostic alternative, which allows the analysis of the molecular information of the solid tumors via a body fluid draw. This fluid-based diagnostic method displays relevant advantages, including its minimal invasiveness, lower risk, use as often as required, it can be analyzed with the use of microfluidic-based platforms with low consumption of reagent, and it does not require specialized personnel and expensive equipment for the diagnosis. In recent years, the integration of sensors in microfluidics lab-on-a-chip devices was performed for liquid biopsies applications, granting significant advantages in the separation and detection of circulating tumor nucleic acids (ctNAs), circulating tumor cells (CTCs) and exosomes. The improvements in isolation and detection technologies offer increasingly sensitive and selective equipment’s, and the integration in microfluidic devices provides a better characterization and analysis of these biomarkers. These fully integrated systems will facilitate the generation of fully automatized platforms at low-cost for compact cancer diagnosis systems at an early stage and for the prediction and prognosis of cancer treatment through the biomarkers for personalized tumor analysis.

JTD Keywords: Cancer, Circulant tumor cells (CTC), Circulant tumor DNA (ctDNA), Exosomes, Liquid biopsy, Microfluidic, Sensors


Lakey, A., Ali, Z., Scott, S. M., Chebil, S., Korri-Youssoufi, H., Hunor, S., Ohlander, A., Kuphal, M., Samitier, J., (2019). Impedimetric array in polymer microfluidic cartridge for low cost point-of-care diagnostics Biosensors and Bioelectronics 129, 147-154

Deep Vein Thrombosis and pulmonary embolism (DVT/PE) is one of the most common causes of unexpected death for hospital in-patients. D-dimer is used as a biomarker within blood for the diagnosis of DVT/PE. We report a low-cost microfluidic device with a conveniently biofunctionalised interdigitated electrode (IDE) array and a portable impedimetric reader as a point-of-care (POC) device for the detection of D-dimer to aid diagnosis of DVT/PE. The IDE array elements, fabricated on a polyethylenenaphtalate (PEN) substrate, are biofunctionalised in situ after assembly of the microfluidic device by electropolymerisation of a copolymer of polypyrrole to which is immobilised a histidine tag anti-D-Dimer antibody. The most consistent copolymer films were produced using chronopotentiometry with an applied current of 5μA for a period of 50 s using a two-electrode system. The quality of the biofunctionalisation was monitored using optical microscopy, chronopotentiometry curves and impedimetric analysis. Measurement of clinical plasma sample with a D-dimer at concentration of 437 ng/mL with 15 biofunctionalised IDE array electrodes gave a ratiometric percentage of sample reading against the blank with an average value of 124 ± 15 at 95% confidence. We have demonstrated the concept of a low cost disposable microfluidic device with a receptor functionalised on the IDE array for impedimetric detection towards POC diagnostics. Changing the receptor on the IDE array would allow this approach to be used for the direct detection of a wide range of analytes in a low cost manner.

JTD Keywords: Electropolymerisation, Impedimetric sensing, Interdigitated electrodes, Microfluidics, Point-of-care diagnostics


Badiola-Mateos, M., Hervera, A., del Río, J. A., Samitier, J., (2018). Challenges and future prospects on 3D in-vitro modeling of the neuromuscular circuit Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology 6, Article 194

Movement of skeletal-muscle fibers is generated by the coordinated action of several cells taking part within the locomotion circuit (motoneurons, sensory-neurons, Schwann cells, astrocytes, microglia, and muscle-cells). Failures in any part of this circuit could impede or hinder coordinated muscle movement and cause a neuromuscular disease (NMD) or determine its severity. Studying fragments of the circuit cannot provide a comprehensive and complete view of the pathological process. We trace the historic developments of studies focused on in-vitro modeling of the spinal-locomotion circuit and how bioengineered innovative technologies show advantages for an accurate mimicking of physiological conditions of spinal-locomotion circuit. New developments on compartmentalized microfluidic culture systems (cμFCS), the use of human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) and 3D cell-cultures are analyzed. We finally address limitations of current study models and three main challenges on neuromuscular studies: (i) mimic the whole spinal-locomotion circuit including all cell-types involved and the evaluation of independent and interdependent roles of each one; (ii) mimic the neurodegenerative response of mature neurons in-vitro as it occurs in-vivo; and (iii) develop, tune, implement, and combine cμFCS, hiPSC, and 3D-culture technologies to ultimately create patient-specific complete, translational, and reliable NMD in-vitro model. Overcoming these challenges would significantly facilitate understanding the events taking place in NMDs and accelerate the process of finding new therapies.

JTD Keywords: 3D-culture, Compartmentalized microfluidic culture systems (cμFCS), HiPSC, In-vitro models, Neuromuscular circuit


Urrea, L., Segura, Miriam, Masuda-Suzukake, M., Hervera, A., Pedraz, L., Aznar, J. M. G., Vila, M., Samitier, J., Torrents, E., Ferrer, Isidro, Gavín, R., Hagesawa, M., Del Río, J. A., (2018). Involvement of cellular prion protein in α-synuclein transport in neurons Molecular Neurobiology 55, (3), 1847-1860

The cellular prion protein, encoded by the gene Prnp, has been reported to be a receptor of β-amyloid. Their interaction is mandatory for neurotoxic effects of β-amyloid oligomers. In this study, we aimed to explore whether the cellular prion protein participates in the spreading of α-synuclein. Results demonstrate that Prnp expression is not mandatory for α-synuclein spreading. However, although the pathological spreading of α-synuclein can take place in the absence of Prnp, α-synuclein expanded faster in PrPC-overexpressing mice.

JTD Keywords: Amyloid spreading, Microfluidic devices, Prnp, Synuclein


Parra-Cabrera, C., Samitier, J., Homs-Corbera, A., (2016). Multiple biomarkers biosensor with just-in-time functionalization: Application to prostate cancer detection Biosensors and Bioelectronics 77, 1192-1200

We present a novel lab-on-a-chip (LOC) device for the simultaneous detection of multiple biomarkers using simple voltage measurements. The biosensor functionalization is performed in-situ, immediately before its use, facilitating reagents storage and massive devices fabrication. Sensitivity, limit of detection (LOD) and limit of quantification (LOQ) are tunable depending on the in-chip flown sample volumes. As a proof-of-concept, the system has been tested and adjusted to quantify two proteins found in blood that are susceptible to be used combined, as a screening tool, to diagnose prostate cancer (PCa): prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and spondin-2 (SPON2). This combination of biomarkers has been reported to be more specific for PCa diagnostics than the currently accepted but rather controversial PSA indicator. The range of detection for PSA and SPON2 could be adjusted to the clinically relevant range of 1 to 10. ng/ml. The system was tested for specificity to the evaluated biomarkers. This multiplex system can be modified and adapted to detect a larger quantity of biomarkers, or different ones, of relevance to other specific diseases.

JTD Keywords: Adjustable sensing, Impedance measurements, In situ functionalization, Microfluidics, Prostate specific antigen, Self-assembled monolayers


Páez-Avilés, C., Juanola-Feliu, E., Punter-Villagrasa, J., Del Moral Zamora, B., Homs-Corbera, A., Colomer-Farrarons, J., Miribel-Català , P. L., Samitier, J., (2016). Combined dielectrophoresis and impedance systems for bacteria analysis in microfluidic on-chip platforms Sensors 16, (9), 1514

Bacteria concentration and detection is time-consuming in regular microbiology procedures aimed to facilitate the detection and analysis of these cells at very low concentrations. Traditional methods are effective but often require several days to complete. This scenario results in low bioanalytical and diagnostic methodologies with associated increased costs and complexity. In recent years, the exploitation of the intrinsic electrical properties of cells has emerged as an appealing alternative approach for concentrating and detecting bacteria. The combination of dielectrophoresis (DEP) and impedance analysis (IA) in microfluidic on-chip platforms could be key to develop rapid, accurate, portable, simple-to-use and cost-effective microfluidic devices with a promising impact in medicine, public health, agricultural, food control and environmental areas. The present document reviews recent DEP and IA combined approaches and the latest relevant improvements focusing on bacteria concentration and detection, including selectivity, sensitivity, detection time, and conductivity variation enhancements. Furthermore, this review analyses future trends and challenges which need to be addressed in order to successfully commercialize these platforms resulting in an adequate social return of public-funded investments.

JTD Keywords: Bacteria, Dielectrophoresis, Impedance, Microfluidics, On-chip


Seo, K. D., Kwak, B. K., Sánchez, S., Kim, D. S., (2015). Microfluidic-assisted fabrication of flexible and location traceable organo-motor IEEE Transactions on Nanobioscience , 14, (3), 298-304

In this paper, we fabricate a flexible and location traceable micromotor, called organo-motor, assisted by microfluidic devices and with high throughput. The organo-motors are composed of organic hydrogel material, poly (ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA), which can provide the flexibility of their structure. For spatial and temporal traceability of the organo-motors under magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPION; Fe3O4) were incorporated into the PEGDA microhydrogels. Furthermore, a thin layer of platinum (Pt) was deposited onto one side of the SPION-PEGDA microhydrogels providing geometrical asymmetry and catalytic propulsion in aqueous fluids containing hydrogen peroxide solution, H2O2. Furthermore, the motion of the organo-motor was controlled by a small external magnet enabled by the presence of SPION in the motor architecture.

JTD Keywords: Flexible, Hydrogel, Magnetic resonance imaging, Microfluidics, Micromotor, Microparticle, Organo-motor, Poly (ethylene glycol) diacrylate, Self-propulsion, Superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles


Castillo-Fernandez, O., Rodriguez-Trujillo, R., Gomila, G., Samitier, J., (2014). High-speed counting and sizing of cells in an impedance flow microcytometer with compact electronic instrumentation Microfluidics and Nanofluidics , 16, (1-2), 91-99

Here we describe a high-throughput impedance flow cytometer on a chip. This device was built using compact and inexpensive electronic instrumentation. The system was used to count and size a mixed cell sample containing red blood cells and white blood cells. It demonstrated a counting capacity of up to ~500 counts/s and was validated through a synchronised high-speed optical detection system. In addition, the device showed excellent discrimination performance under high-throughput conditions.

JTD Keywords: Electronics, Impedance, Microcytometry, Microfluidics, Red blood cells (RBCs), White blood cells (WBCs)


Rigat, L., Bernabeu, M., Elizalde, A., de Niz, M., Martin-Jaular, L., Fernandez-Becerra, C., Homs-Corbera, A., del Portillo, H. A., Samitier, J., (2014). Human splenon-on-a-chip: Design and validation of a microfluidic model resembling the interstitial slits and the close/fast and open/slow microcirculations IFMBE Proceedings XIII Mediterranean Conference on Medical and Biological Engineering and Computing 2013 (ed. Roa Romero, Laura M.), Springer (Seville, Spain) 41, 884-887

Splenomegaly, albeit variably, is a landmark of malaria infection. Due to technical and ethical constraints, however, the role of the spleen in malaria remains vastly unknown. The spleen is a complex three-dimensional branched vasculature exquisitely adapted to perform different functions containing closed/rapid and open/slow microcirculations, compartmentalized parenchyma (red pulp, white pulp and marginal zone), and sinusoidal structure forcing erythrocytes to squeeze through interstitial slits before reaching venous circulation. Taking into account these features, we have designed and developed a newfangled microfluidic device of a human splenon-on-a-chip (the minimal functional unit of the red pulp facilitating blood-filtering and destruction of malarial-infected red blood cells). Our starting point consisted in translating splenon physiology to the most similar microfluidic network, mimicking the hydrodynamic behavior of the organ, to evaluate and simulate its activities, mechanics and physiological responses and, therefore, enable us to study biological hypotheses. Different physiological features have been translated into engineering elements that can be combined to integrate a biomimetic microfluidic spleen model. The device is fabricated in polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), a biocompatible polymer, irreversibly bonded to glass. Microfluidics analyses have confirmed that 90% of the blood circulates through a fast-flow compartment whereas the remaining 10% circulates through a slow compartment, equivalently to what has been observed in a real spleen. Moreover, erythrocytes and reticulocytes going through the slow-flow compartment squeeze at the end of it through 2μm physical constraints resembling interstitial slits to reach the closed/rapid circulation.

JTD Keywords: Malaria, Microfluidics, Organ-on-a-chip, Spleen


Salerno, A., Levato, R., Mateos-Timoneda, M. A., Engel, E., Netti, P. A., Planell, J. A., (2013). Modular polylactic acid microparticle-based scaffolds prepared via microfluidic emulsion/solvent displacement process: Fabrication, characterization, and in vitro mesenchymal stem cells interaction study Journal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part A , 101A, (3), 720-732

The present study reports a novel approach for the design and fabrication of polylactic acid (PLA) microparticle-based scaffolds with microstructural properties suitable for bone and cartilage regeneration. Macroporous PLA scaffolds with controlled shape were fabricated by means of a semicontinuous process involving (1) microfluidic emulsification of a PLA/ethyl lactate solution (5% w/v) in a span 80/paraffin oil solution (3% v/v) followed by (2) particles coagulation/assembly in an acetone/water solution for the development of a continuous matrix. Porous scaffolds prepared from particles with monomodal or bimodal size distribution, overall porosity ranges from 93 to 96%, interparticles porosity from 41 to 54%, and static compression moduli from 0.3 to 1.4 MPa were manufactured by means of flow rate modulation of of the continuous phase during emulsion. The biological response of the scaffolds was assessed in vitro by using bone marrow-derived rat mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). The results demonstrated the ability of the scaffolds to support the extensive and uniform three-dimensional adhesion, colonization, and proliferation of MSCs within the entire construct.

JTD Keywords: Green solvent, Microfluidic, Microstructure, Stem cells, Scaffold


Esquivel, Juan Pablo , Castellarnau, Marc , Senn, Tobias , Löchel, Bernd , Samitier, Josep , Sabaté, Neus , (2012). Fuel cell-powered microfluidic platform for lab-on-a-chip applications Lab on a Chip 12, (1), 74-79

The achievement of a higher degree of integration of components – especially micropumps and power sources – is a challenge currently being pursued to obtain portable and totally autonomous microfluidic devices. This paper presents the integration of a micro direct methanol fuel cell (mDMFC) in a microfluidic platform as a smart solution to provide both electrical and pumping power to a Lab-on-a-Chip system. In this system the electric power produced by the fuel cell is available to enable most of the functionalites required by the microfluidic chip, while the generated CO2 from the electrochemical reaction produces a pressure capable of pumping a liquid volume through a microchannel. The control of the fuel cell operating conditions allows regulation of the flow rate of a liquid sample through a microfluidic network. The relation between sample flow rate and the current generated by the fuel cell is practically linear, achieving values in the range of 4–18 mL min 1 while having an available power between 1–4 mW. This permits adjusting the desired flow rate for a given application by controlling the fuel cell output conditions and foresees a fully autonomous analytical Lab-on-a-Chip in which the same device would provide the electrical power to a detection module and at the same time use the CO2 pumping action to flow the required analytes through a particular microfluidic design.

JTD Keywords: micro direct methanol fuel cell (mDMFC), Lab-on-a-chip (LOC), Microfluidic device


Comelles, J., Hortigüela, V., Samitier, J., Martinez, E., (2012). Versatile gradients of covalently bound proteins on microstructured substrates Langmuir 28, (38), 13688-13697

In this work, we propose an easy method to produce highly tunable gradients of covalently bound proteins on topographically modified poly(methyl methacrylate). We used a rnicrofluidic approach to obtain linear gradients with high slope (0.5 pmol.cm(-2).mm(-1)), relevant at the single-cell level. These protein gradients were characterized using fluorescence microscopy and surface plasmon resonance. Both experimental results and theoretical modeling on the protein gradients generated have proved them to be highly reproducible, stable up to 7 days, and easily tunable. This method enables formation of versatile cell culture platforms combining both complex biochemical and physical cues in an attempt to approach in vitro cell culture methods to in vivo cellular microenvironments.

JTD Keywords: Cell-migration, Microfluidic channel, Surface, Streptavidin, Molecules, Topography, Mechanisms, Generation, Responses, Guidance


Ivon Rodriguez-Villarreal, Angeles, Tarn, Mark D., Madden, Leigh A., Lutz, Julia B., Greenman, John, Samitier, Josep, Pamme, Nicole, (2011). Flow focussing of particles and cells based on their intrinsic properties using a simple diamagnetic repulsion setup Lab on a Chip 11, (7), 1240-1248

The continuous flow focussing and manipulation of particles and cells are important factors in microfluidic applications for performing accurate and reproducible procedures downstream. Many particle focussing methods require complex setups or channel designs that can limit the process and its applications. Here, we present diamagnetic repulsion as a simple means of focussing objects in continuous flow, based only on their intrinsic properties without the requirement of any label. Diamagnetic polystyrene particles were suspended in a paramagnetic medium and pumped through a capillary between a pair of permanent magnets, whereupon the particles were repelled by each magnet into the central axis of the capillary, thus achieving focussing. By investigating this effect, we found that the focussing was greatly enhanced with (i) increased magnetic susceptibility of the medium, (ii) reduced flow rate of the suspension, (iii) increased particle size, and (iv) increased residence time in the magnetic field. Furthermore, we applied diamagnetic repulsion to the flow focussing of living, label-free HaCaT cells.

JTD Keywords: Feeble magnetic substances, On-chip, Blood-cells, Microfluidic device, Separation, Field, Levitation, Magnetophoresis, Fractionation, Nanoparticles


Mir, M., Homs, A., Samitier, J., (2009). Integrated electrochemical DNA biosensors for lab-on-a-chip devices Electrophoresis , 30, (19), 3386-3397

Analytical devices able to perform accurate and fast automatic DNA detection or sequencing procedures have many potential benefits in the biomedical and environmental fields. The conversion of biological or biochemical responses into quantifiable optical, mechanical or electronic signals is achieved by means of biosensors. Most of these transducing elements can be miniaturized and incorporated into lab-on-a-chip devices, also known as Micro Total Analysis Systems. The use of multiple DNA biosensors integrated in these miniaturized laboratories, which perform several analytical operations at the microscale, has many cost and efficiency advantages. Tiny amounts of reagents and samples are needed and highly sensitive, fast and parallel assays can be done at low cost. A particular type of DNA biosensors are the ones used based on electrochemical principles. These sensors offer several advantages over the popular fluorescence-based detection schemes. The resulting signal is electrical and can be processed by conventional electronics in a very cheap and fast manner. Furthermore, the integration and miniaturization of electrochemical transducers in a microsystem makes easier its fabrication in front of the most common currently used detection method. In this review, different electrochemical DNA biosensors integrated in analytical microfluidic devices are discussed and some early stage commercial products based on this strategy are presented.

JTD Keywords: DNA, Electrochemical DNA biosensors, Electrochemistry, Lab-on-a-chip, Micro Total Analysis systems, Field-effect transistors, Sequence-specific detection, Chemical-analysis systems, Solid-state nanopores, Carbon nanotubes, Microfluidic device, Electrical detection, Hybridization, Molecules, Sensor


Rodriguez-Trujillo, R., Castillo-Fernandez, O., Garrido, M., Arundell, M., Valencia, A., Gomila, G., (2008). High-speed particle detection in a micro-Coulter counter with two-dimensional adjustable aperture Biosensors and Bioelectronics 24, (2), 290-296

This article presents the fabrication and characterisation of a high-speed detection micro-Coulter counter with two-dimensional (2D) adjustable aperture and differential impedance detection. The developed device has been fabricated from biocompatible and transparent materials (polymer and glass) and uses the principle of hydrodynamic focusing in two dimensions. The use of a conductive solution for the sample flux and non-conductive solutions for the focalising fluxes provides an adjustable sample flow where particles are aligned and the resistive response concentrated, consequently enhancing the sensitivity and versatility of the device. High-speed counting of 20 mu m polystyrene particles and 5 mu m yeast cells with a rate of up to 1000 particles/s has been demonstrated. Two-dimensional focusing conditions have been used in devices with physical cross-sectional areas of 180 mu m x 65 mu m and 100 mu m x 43 mu m, respectively, in which particles resulted undetectable in the absence of focusing. The 2D-focusing conditions have provided, in addition, increased detection sensitivity by a factor of 1.6 as compared to 1 D-focusing conditions.

JTD Keywords: Impedance, Chip, Microfluidics


Rodriguez-Trujillo, R., Castillo-Fernandez, O., Arundell, M., Samitier, J., Gomila, G., (2008). Yeast cells detection in a very fast and highly versatile microfabricated cytometer MicroTAS 2008 12th International Conference on Miniaturized Systems for Chemistry and Life Sciences , Chemical and Biological Microsystems Society (San Diego, USA) , 1888-1890

A novel microfluidic chip able to detect a wide range of different cell sizes at very high rates is reported. The device uses two-dimensional hydrodynamic focusing [1] of the sample (conducting) flow by three non-conducting flows and high-speed differential impedance detection electronics. High-speed counting of 15μm polystyrene particles and 5μm yeast cells with a rate of up to 1000 particles/s has been demonstrated. Using of two-dimensional focusing effect turn out to be essential in a device with very large cross-sectional area (100x43 μm2) in which particles result undetectable in the absence of focusing.

JTD Keywords: Coulter-counter, Impedance, Microfluidics, Polydimethylsiloxane