03/30/16 Technology miniaturization has always been challenging for scientists. The concept of miniaturization has been studied and applied to life sciences and biotechnology with amazing results. Molecular behavior at the micro scale has proven to be substantially different than at the bulk scale. Microfludics technology allows researchers to achieve a more profound understanding of these variations aiming to optimally exploit their benefit in a broad spectrum of application fields. Performed with the aim of reducing costs while enhancing performance, these approaches have derived in the acceleration of micro technology from an archetypal synthesis of top-down and bottom-up developments, constituting the key to the success of microchip technology.
Working with micro sized quantities of reagents in microscale dimensions, allows sample separation and detection with greater sensitivity and specificity. The economic burden of carrying laboratory-scale experiments utilizing expensive equipment is significantly reduced, obtaining rapid and reliable results. Moreover, the short footprint of these pieces enables fabrication of portable diagnostic devices, importantly enhancing the access of different end-users to medical diagnosis. This fact possesses remarkable importance in developing nations where expensive medical diagnostic facilities are not available to all. An additional advantage relies on their multiplexing capabilities. Microfluidic devices can be used to process multiple samples in parallel, becoming the process substantially more cost and time effective.
This technology plays a major role in the pharmaceutical industry, optimizing current processes and offering completely new decision supports. New markets, on the other hand, are entering the life sciences research technology cluster, revolutionizing the advance of closely related disciplines. In cancer research, antibody-conjugated targeting can guide nanoparticles to a specific body region, and even cells, aiming to improve cancer therapeutics. Nanoparticles are linked to tumor cells, allowing their destruction by different means, such as infrared sources, biochemical agents, etc.
Micro technology drug delivery methods, along with a number of experimental medicine and clinical/preclinical studies for early clinical trials, have become micro and nanofluidic techniques as the starring technologies for next-decades developments. The underlying key comes from the reality that nanoscale particles, including nanoscale devices, are 100 to 10,000 times smaller than human cells. Because of this, three principal areas of interest have been mostly related to the promising development of nanofluidics and nanobio devices:
• Disease diagnosis and screening
• Drug delivery systems
• Health monitoring
Microfluidic developments not only involve an increasing number of applications emerging but also promote the appearance of a wide variety of innovative fabrication methods and technologies enabling the successful development of these applications. Strong discipline focus is put on life sciences and bioengineering disciplines, expecting a central role of nanofluidics and bioNEMS in future medicine. Microfluidic developments are one of the most promising areas of research worldwide
We have always been right in the middle of this research and development, and continue to be an integral part of its success.