Magneto-capillary valve for integrated purification and enrichment of nucleic acids and proteins

R.C. Dulk, den, K.A. Schmidt, G.S. Sabatté, S. Liebana, M.W.J. Prins

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We describe the magneto-capillary valve (MCV) technology, a flexible approach for integrated biological sample preparation within the concept of stationary microfluidics. Rather than moving liquids in a microfluidic device, discrete units of liquid are present at fixed positions in the device and magnetic particles are actuated between the fluids. The MCV concept is characterized by the use of two planar surfaces at a capillary mutual distance, with specific features to confine the fluids by capillary forces, and the use of a gas or a phase-change material separating the stationary aqueous liquids. We have studied the physics of magneto-capillary valving by quantifying the magnetic force as a function of time and position, which reveals the balance of magnetic, capillary and frictional forces in the system. By purification experiments with a fluorescent tracer we have measured the amount of co-transported liquid, which is a key parameter for efficient purification. To demonstrate the versatility of the technology several MCV device architectures were tested in a series of biological assays, showing the purification and enrichment of nucleic acids and proteins. Target recovery comparable to non-miniaturized commercial kits was observed for the extraction of DNA from human cells in buffer, using a device architecture with patterned air valves. Experiments using an enrichment module and patterned air valves demonstrate a 40-fold effective enrichment of DNA in buffer. DNA was also successfully purified from blood plasma using paraffin phase-change valves. Finally, the enrichment of a protein biomarker (prostate-specific antigen) using geometrical air valves resulted in a 7-fold increase of detection signal. The MCV technology is versatile, offers extensive freedom for the design of fully integrated systems, and is expected to be manufacturable in a cost-effective way. We conclude that the MCV technology can become an important enabling technology for point-of-care systems with sample in – result out performance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-118
Number of pages12
JournalLab on a Chip
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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