Senior Scientist CN Bio Innovations, United Kingdom
Microfluidics has long offered the promise of smaller, more efficient and more biologically relevant assay systems. However, this has proven challenging due to the behavior of liquids at microliter volumes, bubbles and scale up for manufacturing. Microfluidic systems often also include other components such as environmental control units, optics and/or motion control devices.
Managing all of these elements using iterative design and prototyping can play a key role in successful project delivery. Use of low cost off the shelf mechanical products (e.g., peristaltic and syringe pumps, solenoid valves, programmable logic controllers) coupled with an ability to write basic code gives scientists and engineers the ability to rapidly prototype without the need for large cost overheads.
There is a large amount of, often free, support across variety on topics on many online platforms which make these technologies accessible to everyone. This approach comes with a steep early learning curve but can reduce initial equipment spend by over 10-fold and will allow for more efficient systems integration during product development.
Marrying these technologies with biochemical or cellular assays has the potential to bring disruptive change across fields as diverse as personalized medicine, diagnostics and drug screening.