Research from Zhonghua Ni‘s group at Southeast University in China published recently in Analytical Chemistry (DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.8b02201) allows for effective cell concentration along a spiral microfluidic channel.
The device is connected directly to a syringe, and outward flow in the microfluidic spiral channel is generated simply by the operator pushing on the plunger. Separation by inertial (centrifugal) forces partitions the cells to the inside channel ‘track’ such that a Y-shaped bifurcation at the outer spiral terminus yields a concentrated cell suspension on the inner outlet and almost cell-free solution on the outer outlet.
The device embodies simplicity as a virtue. It has no active components, and requires no electrical power, only average human thumb power :-); it simply requires a sample-filled syringe and two collection vials. It is well conceived for both resource-poor and lab environments alike. Their bold claim that one could bring their concentrator “into commercial outcomes without additional redesigning” initially made me chuckle, but after absorbing their work, I have to admit they appear to be exaggerating only slightly! An Abbott, BD or start-up would require some industrial product design, but technically, they appear to be at the finish line. I can’t speak to the competition in this product segment, and sure hope they have a good patent, but it seems pretty clever!