Automated sample preparation systems for medical diagnostics
Siew, Kok Ewe
Date of Issue2003
School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Singapore-MIT Alliance Programme
Recent advances in genomics research and the completion of the Human Genome Project have made it possible for scientists to apply genomic knowledge and technologies in various fields, such as medical diagnostics, drug discovery, agriculture, and even defense against the threat of bio-warfare. At the heart of all these applications is the procedure of sample preparation to extract nucleic acids of interest from organisms for subsequent analyses. Conventionally, the sample preparation process is a tedious and labor-intensive procedure carried out manually by laboratory technicians. It is conceivable that an automated sample preparation system will add considerable time- and cost-saving to the end users. In this theme project, we perform a feasibility study of a microfluidics-based automated sample preparation system for a local research institute. In the market analysis, potential target markets, their usage characteristics and industry competitive landscape are analyzed; a marketing strategy is proposed for the products under development. In the technology study, we analyzed, simulate and performed experiments on two key aspects of the cell separation/lysis module of the microfluidic product: diffusion control in the microchannel and the use of dielectrophoresis mechanism for cell movement. In the manufacturability study, we propose a high volume manufacturing strategy for the sample preparation chip and address potential manufacturing issues.