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[Lab on a chip] Biocompatible and label-free separation of cancer cells from cell culture lines from


This paper reports a biocompatible and label-free cell separation method using ferrofluids that can separate a variety of low-concentration cancer cells from cell culture lines (∼100 cancer cells per mL) from undiluted white blood cells, with a throughput of 1.2 mL h−1 and an average separation efficiency of 82.2%. The separation is based on the size difference of the cancer cells and white blood cells, and is conducted in a custom-made biocompatible ferrofluid that retains not only excellent short-term viabilities but also normal proliferations of 7 commonly used cancer cell lines. A microfluidic device is designed and optimized specifically to shorten the time of live cells' exposure to ferrofluids from hours to seconds, by eliminating time-consuming off-chip sample preparation and extraction steps and integrating them on-chip to achieve a one-step process. As a proof-of-concept demonstration, a ferrofluid with 0.26% volume fraction was used in this microfluidic device to separate spiked cancer cells from cell lines at a concentration of ∼100 cells per mL from white blood cells with a throughput of 1.2 mL h−1. The separation efficiencies were 80 ± 3%, 81 ± 5%, 82 ± 5%, 82 ± 4%, and 86 ± 6% for A549 lung cancer, H1299 lung cancer, MCF-7 breast cancer, MDA-MB-231 breast cancer, and PC-3 prostate cancer cell lines, respectively. The separated cancer cells' purity was between 25.3% and 28.8%. In addition, the separated cancer cells from this strategy showed an average short-term viability of 94.4 ± 1.3%, and these separated cells were cultured and demonstrated normal proliferation to confluence even after the separation process. Owing to its excellent biocompatibility and label-free operation and its ability to recover low concentrations of cancer cells from white blood cells, this method could lead to a promising tool for rare cell separation.

Wujun Zhao,a Rui Cheng,b So Hyun Lim,c Joshua R. Miller,a Weizhong Zhang,a Wei Tang,a Jin Xiea and Leidong Mao*b

Author affiliations

*Corresponding authors

aDepartment of Chemistry, University of Georgia, Athens, USA

bCollege of Engineering, University of Georgia, Athens, USA E-mail: mao@uga.edu

cDepartment of Microbiology, University of Georgia, Athens, USA

Link: http://pubs.rsc.org/en/Content/ArticleLanding/2017/LC/C7LC00327G#!divAbstract

#06112017 #labelfree #cell #blood #ferrofluid #labonachip

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