Exosomes found in the circulation are a primary source of important cancer-related RNA and protein biomarkers that are expected to lead to early detection, liquid biopsy, and point-of-care diagnostic applications. Unfortunately, due to their small size (50-150 nm) and low density, exosomes are extremely difficult to isolate from plasma. Current isolation methods are time-consuming multistep procedures that are unlikely to translate into diagnostic applications.
To address this issue, researchers from the University of California San Diego demonstrate the ability of an alternating current electrokinetic (ACE) microarray chip device to rapidly isolate and recover glioblastoma exosomes from undiluted human plasma samples. The ACE device requires a small plasma sample (30-50 μL) and is able to concentrate the exosomes into high-field regions around the ACE microelectrodes within 15 min. A simple buffer wash removes bulk plasma materials, leaving the exosomes concentrated on the microelectrodes. The entire isolation process and on-chip fluorescence analysis is completed in less than 30 min which enables subsequent on-chip immunofluorescence detection of exosomal proteins, and provides viable mRNA for RT-PCR analysis. These results demonstrate the ability of the ACE device to streamline the process for isolation and recovery of exosomes, significantly reducing the number of processing steps and time required.