Label free particle sorting

Label free particle sorting in a microfluidic chip

Sleeping sickness is a real threat to people in Africa, caused by the protozoan parasite. It is fatal, if not treated. Infected patients suffer from painful and unpleasant symptoms and experience severe dysfunction of the body. The quick determination of e.g. this parasite in the blood, is one of the goals of the LAPASO project, initiated by Professor Jonas Tegenfeldt of Lund University.

Lapaso project

The Lapaso project started in 2013, with the aim to sort particles and cells based on size, density and deformability as electrical properties. Simone Tanzi, participating on behalf of Micronit, and Jonas Tegenfeldts group developed a microfluidic chip that enables label free cell sorting using deterministic lateral displacement. This sorting method is based on particle morphology.

Micronit’s involvement

‘My starting point was to develop a chip that can be manufactured at a reasonable price, both in the research and future commercial phase of the project’, says Simone Tanzi. ‘Often a researcher starts with a self-made prototype chip in PDMS because this is fast and cheap. When a project becomes successful and the chips need to be replicated in larger volumes, a technology transfer is always required. The chosen method becomes time consuming and expensive and the researcher needs to select another replication method. Eventually, the researcher loses time and money to revalidate a part of his research'. For this project, Simone developed a hot embossed chip in a thermoplastic polymer with an array of pillars as small as 20 µm in diameter. When larger volumes are required, he can easily switch to injection molding without losing time and at a reasonable cost.

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Relevance for sleeping sickness

The microfluidic chip enables a doctor to easily determine if a patient is suffering from sleeping sickness. With the advantage that the doctor doesn’t need to have knowledge of microfluidics or cell behavior. Nor does the doctor need peripherals and lab space to perform the test. This saves time and money and makes it possible to start treatment quicker. 

Project funding

The project is funded by the People Programme (Marie Curie Actions) of the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme FP7/2007-2013/ under REA grant agreement n° 607350. It runs for four years with start 1 OCT 2013.

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