Engineers and Cancer Researchers Working in Harmony

A research journal published by Danny Taller, Katherine Richards,  Zdenek Slouka, Satyajyoti Senapati, Reginald Hill, David Go and Hsueh-Chia Chang was recently published on the Lab on A Chip website  titled, 'On-chip surface acoustic wave lysis and ion-exchange nanomembrane detection of exosomal RNA for pancreatic cancer study and diagnosis.' This article exemplifies how well engineers and cancer researchers complement eachother.  

There has been increasing evidence that micro and messenger RNA derived from exosomes play important roles in pancreatic and other cancers. In this work, a microfluidics-based approach to the analysis of exosomal RNA is presented based on surface acoustic wave (SAW) exosome lysis and ion-exchange nanomembrane RNA sensing performed in conjunction on two separate chips. Using microRNA hsa-miR-550 as a model target and raw cell media from pancreatic cancer cell lines as a biological sample, SAW-based exosome lysis is shown to have a lysis rate of 38%, and an ion-exchange nanomembrane sensor is shown to have a limit of detection of 2 pM, with two decades of linear dynamic range. A universal calibration curve was derived for the membrane sensor and used to detect the target at a concentration of 13 pM in a SAW-lysed sample, which translates to 14 target miRNA per exosome from the raw cell media. At a total analysis time of ~1.5 h, this approach is a significant improvement over existing methods that require two overnight steps and 13 h of processing time. The platform also requires much smaller sample volumes than existing technology (~100 μL as opposed to ~mL) and operates with minimal sample loss, a distinct advantage for studies involving mouse models or other situations where the working fluid is scarce.