Small lab-on-a-chip devices may turn out to be excellent candidates for analyzing patient sputum because they require small sample sizes and can perform a number of steps automatically without exposing the operator to the potentially infectious samples. The problem is that sputum is hard to work with and has to be liquefied before tests can be performed on the cells within, particularly when using small microfluidic devices that are easily clogged.
Researchers at Penn State have now created a tiny acoustofluidic micromixer that liquefies sputum samples evenly at 30 microliters per minute. The device has sharp components that vibrate very quickly as the sample is passed through its channel, breaking up the goo while keeping most of the cells intact. The device can be integrated with other microfluidic components to study sputum samples by simply tacking it to the front of any system.
The researchers hope that the technology will help to study and prescribe targeted drugs for asthma, tuberculosis, and other conditions that affect the lungs.
Study in Lab on a Chip: An acoustofluidic sputum liquefier…
Source: Penn State….