Researchers at NYU Abu Dhabi (yes, there is such a thing) have developed a method to 3D print functional and inexpensive microfluidic probes for cancer research. The technique could make microfluidics more accessible, allowing researchers to easily design and produce their own devices, and conduct cell-based healthcare research, such as studying cancer cells, more easily.
Microfluidic devices are used by researchers to study and manipulate live cell cultures. Their small size allows for unique experiments that would be more difficult on a larger scale. Microfluidics typically consist of small channels and reservoirs through which fluid can flow, and are frequently made from glass or silicon. However, these devices often require complex fabrication processes and are expensive to produce in large quantities.
In addition, researchers may have very specific requirements for their experiments, meaning that mass-produced commercial devices may not be suitable. Designing and producing their own microfluidic devices, though, is beyond the reach of many research groups.
To address this, the NYU Abu Dhabi researchers developed a 3D printing technique for microfluidic probes. “3D printers provide a simple, rapid, and low-cost technique for fabricating microfluidic probes,” said Mohammad Qasaimeh, a researcher involved in the study. “It’s cheaper to produce, easy to scale up, and fast to fabricate – all steps, from design to product, can be made in less than a day. Any science lab with a moderate resolution stereolithography printer will be able to fabricate 3D microfluidic probes on demand and use them to process cells reliably.”
The researchers claim that the printed microfluidics are just as reliable as traditional devices, and have already used them to study how immune cells respond to infections. Other possible applications for these types of devices include studying how cancer cells behave, or as diagnostic devices that can isolate circulating tumor cells from blood samples.
See a video of the project below:
Study in Scientific Reports: 3D Printed Microfluidic Probes…
Via: NYU Abu Dhabi…