ExoCPR chip – a magnetic nanoparticle-based microfluidic platform for automated enrichment of high-purity extracellular vesicles

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are microscopic packets that play critical roles in intercellular communication, transporting molecular messages across the body. With their heterogeneous sizes, origins, contents, and functions, EVs hold immense potential for understanding diseases like cancer. However, their rapid and pure isolation from biological fluids has long been a bottleneck in EV research—until now.

Introducing the ExoCPR microfluidic platform—a groundbreaking technology that promises to transform the landscape of EV isolation, purification, and recovery. Developed by a team of researchers at Xi’an Jiaotong University, this innovative chip boasts an impressive array of features designed to streamline the process and yield high-purity EVs in record time.

At the heart of the ExoCPR chip lies a magnetic nanoparticle-based microfluidic system, capable of isolating EVs from cell culture supernatant and plasma within a mere 29 minutes.

The ExoCPR chip integrates bubble-driven micromixers and immiscible filtration assisted by surface tension (IFAST) technology—a winning combination that sets it apart from traditional isolation methods. The bubble-driven micromixer enhances the mixing between immunomagnetic beads and EVs, eliminating the need for manual pipetting or off-chip oscillatory incubation. This automated process not only saves time but also ensures consistent results, free from human error.

But that’s not all. The ExoCPR chip goes a step further by achieving high-purity EVs through the removal of hydrophilic or hydrophobic impurities. This is achieved by passing the EVs through the immiscible phase interface, where contaminants nonspecifically bound to the surface are efficiently eliminated. The result? EVs of exceptional purity, ready for downstream analysis.

In terms of performance, the ExoCPR chip shines bright. With a capture efficiency of 75.8% and a release efficiency of 62.7% for model EVs, it outperforms traditional methods with ease. Moreover, its prowess extends beyond the laboratory, demonstrating remarkable success in isolating EVs from clinical plasma samples.

One particularly promising application of the ExoCPR chip is in liquid biopsy—a non-invasive method for detecting cancer through the analysis of EVs in bodily fluids. By isolating GPC3-positive EVs from hepatocellular carcinoma patients, the chip has shown potential as a diagnostic tool for early cancer detection.

The ExoCPR microfluidic platform represents a paradigm shift in EV research. Its speed, efficiency, and purity make it a game-changer for scientists seeking to unravel the mysteries of EV biology and harness their potential for diagnostic and therapeutic applications. With the ExoCPR chip leading the way, the future of EV research looks brighter than ever before.

Guo X, Hu F, Yong Z, Zhao S, Wan Y, Wang B, Peng N. (2024) Magnetic Nanoparticle-Based Microfluidic Platform for Automated Enrichment of High-Purity Extracellular Vesicles. Anal Chem [Epub ahead of print]. [abstract]

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