New device rapidly isolates blood plasma for diagnostics and precision medicine

NTU scientists have developed a coin-sized chip device that can directly isolate blood plasma from a tube of blood in just 30 minutes, which is more convenient and user-friendly as compared to the current gold standard, multi-step centrifugation process.

Named ExoArc, with just a single step, it can achieve high blood plasma purity by removing more than 99.9 per cent of blood cells and platelets precisely and gently, which will greatly speed up clinical analysis and screening for biomarkers from extracellular vesicles that are tell-tale signs specific to certain cancers and diseases.

As a proof-of-concept, the team built a portable prototype device to house the ExoArc chip, which has a large touch-screen interface to adjust settings, as well as internal pumps and piping for the processing of blood samples and collection of the isolated blood plasma.

Together with clinician-scientists from National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS), Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), the team clinically validated ExoArc by analysing the microRNA profile of blood plasma in healthy people and cancer patients using a biomarker panel and found it was able to diagnose non-small cell lung cancer with high accuracy.

In another practical use-case application for precision medicine, the purified blood plasma can also be used to screen and differentiate healthy individuals from those with Type 2 diabetes.

ExoArc currently has two patent applications filed through NTUitive, NTU’s innovation and enterprise company and its study findings have been published recently in ACS Nano, a journal under the American Chemical Society.

SourceNanyang Technological University

Leong SY, Lok WW, Goh KY, Ong HB, Tay HM, Su C, Kong F, Upadya M, Wang W, Radnaa E, Menon R, Dao M, Dalan R, Suresh S, Lim DW, Hou HW. (2024) High-Throughput Microfluidic Extraction of Platelet-free Plasma for MicroRNA and Extracellular Vesicle Analysis. ACS Nano 18(8):6623-6637. [abstract]

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