Microfluidic blood cell analysis

Microfluidics-enabled haemocytometer parallel analysis of erythrocyte properties.

It is postulated that erythrocytes, displaying abnormal cell-mechanical properties, may be present in pathologies such as Diabetes, Thalassaemia and Sickle Cell Anaemia.

However, existing haemorheological techniques lack sufficient specificity to verify the presence of such cells.

We have developed a microfluidics-based cytometric instrument for the quantification of erythrocyte (red blood cell) rheology.

Silicon microchannels

A multilayer glass-silicon-glass microfluidic device, incorporating 1600 individual flow channels and a secondary plane of fluid feed vias, forms the heart of the instrument.

An optimised fluid control system is employed to safely and precisely transport the blood samples to the micro-channel array.

Erythrocytes are measured whilst flowing through the precise microfabricated capillary flow channels, under physiologically equivalent conditions of temperature and pressure.

Imaging and data extraction

Real-time video imaging and data processing techniques (developed at the University of Hertfordshire), perform accurate, detailed measurements of circa 1000 erythrocytes on a cell-by-cell basis.

The real time data processing allows infrastructural investigation of erythrocyte samples by precisely measuring both velocity and a volume index for each erythrocyte.

Real world samples

Handling real world biological samples is a significant stumbling block for many microTAS devices and systems. Detailed CFD analysis was performed in order to overcome known problems of bubbles, biological fouling and accurate transport of suspended media.

The resulting micro-structures facilitate reliable bubble free priming, cleaning and accurate transport and measurement of the suspended erythrocyte samples.