Analytical Instrumentation, Methods & Materials
Method of Performing Gradient-Based Assays in a Microfluidic Device
Inventors: David Beebe, Glenn Walker
The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing a method for performing gradient-based, high throughput assays in a microfluidic device.
Gradient-based chemical and biological assays are often performed in multi-well plates. Although each well holds only a few microliters, with hundreds of wells per plate and several plates, the volume of needed reagents quickly becomes expensive and time-consuming to produce. And when large numbers of reagent concentrations are used, gradient-based assays often require specialized equipment to generate the various reagent concentrations, fill the wells and transport the plates to a desired location for readout.
UW-Madison researchers have developed a method for performing gradient-based, high throughput assays in a microfluidic device. The method involves passing two fluids through a channel in a microfluidic system. The first fluid contains a predetermined concentration of particles. Particles from this fluid diffuse into the second fluid, creating a concentration gradient of particles in the second fluid as it flows through the channel. The second fluid intersects a series of targets along the channel wall. Because a gradient in a microchannel is equivalent to a multi-well plate containing thousands of wells, this method is simpler, faster, more efficient and less expensive than traditional high throughput assay systems.
- Drug screening
- Optimization of chemical reactions
- Polymer synthesis
- Economical -- because a gradient can be established within a few hundred nanoliters, only a fraction of the reagents used in traditional systems are needed
- Fast -- requires only a fraction of the time needed for traditional high throughput assay systems
- Cost-effective -- eliminates need for expensive robotic systems and accessories
- Efficient -- filling and observing one microchannel is equivalent to filling and observing many multi-well plates
- An almost infinite number of concentrations of molecules or particles can be tested against a biological or chemical target
- Allows more precise identification of optimum particle concentration