In this proposal, we aim to develop a fully integrated ferrofluidic microchip to magnetically manipulate and enrich cells inside bio-compatible ferrofluids in a label-free manner by combining microfluidics and dynamically-reconfigurable wire-mesh coils. Goals of this research are (1) to develop the ferrofluidic microchip as a general cell manipulation platform for biomedical research, and (2) to develop a fast and low-cost front-end separation method to enrich cervical abnormal cells for increased reproducibility, reduced screening time, and improved screening accuracy. We plan to achieve these goals through pursuing three specific aims. (1) Development of integrated ferrofluidic cell manipulation and enrichment microchip. We will model, design, fabricate and test a novel and versatile wire-mesh coil to produce reconfigurable and dynamic magnetic field patterns. A PDMS microchannels will be designed and integrated with the wire-mesh coil to form the prototype chip. (2) Demonstration of the chip's effectiveness in cell manipulation. We will develop bio-compatible ferrofluids for live cell experiments. We will exploit size, shape and elasticity of cells as potenial manipulation characteristics. Cell manipulation will be conducted with live cells. (3) Application of chip in cervical cancer cell enrichment. The chip can be applied in areas in cell biology where understanding of cell behavior requires isolation and manipulation of certain cell subpopulations. This is a highly interdisciplinary research project because it deals with the themes of colloidal chemistry, fluid dynamics, magnetism, electronics, modeling and simulation, microfabrication, and cancer biology. An interdisciplinary team in both engineering sciences (University of Georgia and University of Houston) and cancer biology (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is formed for this project. The team includes 4 university faculty, one CDC cervical cancer expert, one CDC postdoctoral scholar, and two graduate students. The duration of the proposed project period is 3 years.
The chip can be applied in areas in cell biology where understanding of cell behavior requires isolation and manipulation of certain cell subpopulations. The chip will be used to enrich abnormal cervical cells and support the effort for better prevention and control of cervical cancer, which is the second most common cancer in women globally. This device supports Department of Health and Human Services objectives in the 2010-2015 Strategic Plan to reduce the growth of health care costs while promoting high-value, effective care.