Research Highlights

Fundamental Technology for Next-Generation Microarrays Developed

2017-08-3089

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From the left, Kim Joon Won, Lee Sang Hyun, Kim Ho Jin

A microarray is a biomedical and biochemical analytical chip with many sensor-like areas arranged as tiles that assays biological materials in parallel. It is widely known as a multiplex “lab-on-a-chip.” There are many types of microarrays including DNA microarrays, protein microarrays, and antibody microarrays. Microarrays are used for high-throughput analysis—such as large-scale screening and profiling of biomolecules—which enable parallel analysis of hundreds to millions of parameters in a single test.

There are a variety of microfluidic array platforms that enable pairing and clustering of different particles to perform effective parallel biochemical analysis. However, the previously reported methods require additional components and/or fabrication steps that complicated the otherwise effective platform.

Research conducted by Professor Joonwon Kim from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Pohang University of Science and Technology has introduced an efficient method for cross-contamination-free, parallel, and dynamic biochemical analysis. The team integrated the core functionalities into a single device and created a novel microfluidic platform with numerous hydrodynamically tunable pneumatic valves (HTPV) that uses the inherent hydrodynamic force to allow unprecedented performance through a one-inlet-one-outlet device. This achievement has been published as the cover story in a recent issue of the world-renowned Advanced Science News.

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The team recognized the limitations of existing microarray platforms, such as contamination between the materials being analyzed, and developed the unique HTPV that overcome those limitations and require none of the existing complicated integration or fabrication processes. The HTPVs include storage chambers, which when combined with aqueous-oil portioning method, prevent the cross-contamination of molecules by diffusion and fluid flow. This elegant approach greatly reduces the consumption of reagents and increases performance to enable cross-contamination-free, parallel, and dynamic analysis of interactions between particles.

Professor Kim commented that this breakthrough achievement “can dramatically reduce time that is required to diagnose highly pathogenic illnesses and develop new and generic medicines, and amount of expensive reagents.” The team is currently planning to diversify the functions of the technology by implementing multi-analysis functions currently unavailable, among others.