Extracellular vesicles (EVs) play a critical role in the regulation of various biological processes and pathologies, and have significant utility as potential diagnostic biomarkers and drug delivery systems. That said, conventional methods for EV manipulation and analysis suffer from several drawbacks, including low yield and/or purity, complexity and high cost. For these reasons, there has been growing interest in the development of microfluidic-based tools for fast and efficient EV processing.
ETH Zürich researchers first highlight some of the most interesting recent advances in microfluidic technologies for the separation of EVs, as well as the synthesis of EV mimetics for drug delivery applications. They then discuss the advantages and disadvantages of currently available technologies and provide opinion on some of the most important future challenges and areas of application.
Sized-based microfluidic methods for EV separation
(a) Oscillatory viscoelastic microfluidics for separation and focusing of nanoscale species. (b) Nanoporous filter for fractionation of EV subgroups with different sizes. (c) Nano-DLD for EV separation using a nanopillar array. (d) Acoustofluidic module for separation of EVs from whole blood. (e) Alternating current electrokinetic chip for separation of EVs through an array of circular microelectrodes.