Micrometric blood plasma separator manufactured by 3D printing

Specimens of the new model of blood plasma micrometer separator can be manufactured by high-resolution 3D printing. (Photo: UPV/EHU)

Scientists have succeeded in creating a microfluidic plasma separator for the optical detection of biomarkers in blood.

The achievement is the work of researchers from the Microfluidics Cluster of the University of País Vasco (UPV/EHU).

The team has used a bespoke resin formulation using a high-resolution 3D printing methodology for rapid optimization of modular plasma separation devices working with very small sample sizes. The printing method used demonstrates the great contribution that this microfluidic technology can bring to the market for biomedical plasma separation devices.

Within the framework of the “Laboratory on a Chip” type devices (“Lab-on-a-Chip” in English), which integrate one or more functions typical of a laboratory in a single chip of millimeter dimensions, they are being developed with successful diagnostic tests for the determination of biomarkers in blood. The improvements that microfluidics can bring to analysis and medical devices are very substantive, because you work with very small quantities and get the same results.

3D printing has had a significant impact in this field, although the development of fully functional 3D printed microfluidic platforms with integrated components remains a challenge. The Microfluidics Cluster of the UPV/EHU has contributed its grain of sand in this regard.

Blood cells very often interfere with the detection of biomarkers, leading to inaccurate concentration values. Therefore, separation from plasma is a critical step to improve analytical performance and develop reliable and accurate detection systems. In the new research, UPV/EHU Microfluidics Cluster PhD student Sandra García Rey used a custom-made resin formulation combined with a high-resolution 3D printing methodology to rapidly optimize the prototype of a microfluidics module. operational plasma separation.

“Imagine a channel of about five or ten microns, whose surface is functionalized with receptors to capture a certain molecule, or biomarker, from the blood and analyze it by fluorescence,” says Dr. Fernando Benito López, one of the main researchers of the cluster. “Red blood cells would prevent the vision of that fluorescence. Therefore, we have generated a kind of hole where the white and red blood cells are eliminated by gravity; Thus, only the plasma passes through the channel and the interferences that could cause in the integrated detection system by optical methods are eliminated. That is, this module would be placed in front of the analysis system”. In the opinion of Benito López, this new system allows the entire process to be integrated within the fluidic device. In addition, the device improves the quality of the analysis, “because it is faster and there are fewer errors, because there is less human intervention.”

Microfluidic device fabricated to easily and reliably separate plasma from blood has demonstrated the potential of 3D stereolithographic printing technology for microfabrication (laser technology using a liquid resin sensitive to ultraviolet light). “An optimal fluidic structure can be achieved much faster than using conventional methods, such as photolithography,” says Dr. Benito López. The researchers say this research will enable the fabrication of 3D-printed one-piece devices with integrated plasma separation components for the detection of biomarkers in blood. In addition, they have shown that “you can work with different resins”.

This research is included within the European project DNASURF, coordinated by the University of Newcastle (United Kingdom), in which various partners from Europe collaborate. This is a project from the RISE call, which promotes the exchange of knowledge between research groups in Europe with research groups from other parts of the world, thanks to which the UPV/EHU researcher Sandra García Rey has been able to work on this study at Brigham Young University (Utah, United States).

The study is titled “High-Resolution 3D Printing Fabrication of a Microfluidic Platform for Blood Plasma Separation”. And it has been published in the academic journal Polymers. (Source: UPV/EHU) Separador micrométrico de plasma sanguíneo fabricado por impresión 3D | Noticias de la Ciencia y la Tecnología (Amazings® / NCYT®)

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