Engineers at Penn State have developed the first microfluidic-based on-chip liquefaction device for human sputum samples.
Researchers at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health, and the Washington University School of Medicine, have also played big role in the development of the device.
According to the developers, the device is based on an acoustofluidic micromixer using oscillating sharp edges. This acoustofluidic sputum liquefier can effectively and uniformly liquefy sputum samples.
Cell viability and integrity are maintained during the sputum liquefaction process. To enable automated on-chip sputum processing and analysis, the device's acoustofluidic sputum liquefier can be integrated with other microfluidic units.
"This will offer quick analysis of samples without having to send them out to a centralized lab. While I have been working on the liquefaction component of the device, my lab mates are working on the flow cytometry analysis component, which should be ready soon. This is the first on-chip sputum liquefier anyone has developed," Po-Hsun Huang, a graduate student and the first author on the recent paper describing the device in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Lab on a Chip, said.
Stewart J. Levine, a Senior Investigator and Chief of the Laboratory of Asthma and Lung Inflammation in the Division of Intramural Research at NHLBI, said, "This on-chip sputum liquefier is a significant advance regarding our goal of developing a point-of-care diagnostic device that will determine the type of inflammation present in the lungs of asthmatics. This will allow health care providers to individualize asthma treatments for each patient and advance the goal of bringing precision medicine into clinical practice."