A joint effort of electrical engineers, computer scientists, and biomedical engineers at the University of California has led to the creation of a new lab-on-a-chip. This new biochip can help study heterogeneity of tumor to reduce resistance to cancer therapeitics
A paper published in Advanced Biosystems describes how the researchers combined artificial intelligence, nanoparticle inkjet printing, and microfluidics in a device that enables the differentiation and examination of healthy tissues and cancers at the single-level.
“Meanwhile, in cancer therapeutics, tumor heterogeneity and cancer cell can lead to magnified therapeutic resistance and varying outcomes for different patients,” said the lead author of the study. In this scenario, the novel biochip can address the problem by allowing accurate characterization of various cancer cells from a sample.
New Biochip overcomes challenges of Single-cell Analysis for Cancer Therapeutics
For cancer therapeutics, single-cell analysis is essential to detect and categorize cancer types and study cellular heterogeneity. Also, it is necessary to understand tumor initiation, metastasis, and progression in order to design better drugs for cancer treatment.
In fact, most of the techniques and technologies employed to study cancer are bulky, sophisticated, expensive, and have the basic requirement of highly trained operators and long preparation times.
Hence, by combining machine learning techniques with microfluidics technology and accessible inkjet printing, the research team overcame these challenges. This helped to develop inexpensive, miniaturized biochips that are capable of categorizing various cell types and are simple to prototype.
In the apparatus, samples of cell types travel through microfluidic channels with electrodes that are carefully placed. This monitors differences in the electrical properties of diseases versus healthy cells in a single trip. The innovation of the researchers was to devise a method to prototype essential elements of the biochip in about 20 minutes with an inkjet printer.