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Immune function on a chip
30 October 2008
A chip to test white blood cell response quickly from just a drop of blood has been developed by scientists in the US.
Current migration-measuring techniques usually require a separate step to isolate neutrophils from blood samples, involving large sample volumes and lengthy procedures not suited to miniaturisation. Irimia's new method needs smaller volumes and avoids the extra step by capturing the neutrophils in the chip, in a chamber coated with cell adhesion molecules.
A single drop of blood contains enough neutrophils to test the cells' migration abilities
Importantly, these binding interactions are weak. This means that the captured cells can move when a concentration gradient of a chemoattractant is applied, created using an arrangement of valves, inlets and outlets on the chip. The cells' movement is then monitored by microscopy, with images captured every six seconds.
The chip could find use in routinely testing individuals' neutrophil migration ability, says Irimia. This would help identify and monitor those with altered neutrophil function, such as children with repeated infections perhaps, he explains. It could also help find the balance needed between keeping neutrophils' protective effects and depressing their function when developing certain drugs, he adds.
- Francis Lin
Irimia's team is now using the technology to explore several directions. A 'very exciting' collaboration, says Irimia, is with a burn surgeon. 'We want to test neutrophil function in patients with burn injury, where alteration of this function is known and has implications for infections and other complications.'
Link to journal article
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