Healthcare Technology Featured Article

January 09, 2013

New Biochip Technology from Purdue Could Be Used for Pharmaceutical Manufacturing

There’s new research coming out of Purdue University where scientists have tested biochip technology that may be used someday in medicine or pharmaceutical manufacturing.

The researchers already have collected microscopic bacteria and fungi via the new method, according to Steven T. Wereley, a Purdue University professor of mechanical engineering.

The method uses a laser and electric fields “to create tiny centrifuge-like whirlpools to separate particles and microbes by size,” according to a Purdue statement.  Typically, large laboratory equipment would be needed.

The technology was called “rapid electrokinetic patterning” (REP) and could be used in varied applications such as: medical diagnostics; testing food, water and contaminated soil; isolating DNA for gene sequencing; crime-scene forensics; as well as pharmaceutical manufacturing.

"The new results demonstrate that REP can be used to sort biological particles, but also that the technique is a powerful tool for development of a high-performance on-chip bioassay system," Wereley said in a statement.

REP was used to collect three types of microorganisms: a bacterium called Shewanella oneidensis MR-1; Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a single-cell spherical fungus; and Staphylococcus aureus, a spherical bacterium.

"Say you want to collect Shewanella bacteria, so you use a certain electrical frequency and collect them,” Wereley added. “Then the next day you want to collect platelets from blood. That's going to be a different frequency. We foresee the ability to dynamically select what you will collect, which you could not do that with conventional tools."

Much of the research was performed at the Birck Nanotechnology Center at Purdue's Discovery Park.

More study is needed before the technology could be commercialized. For instance, it could be used for pharmaceutical manufacturing, “because a number of drugs are manufactured from solid particles suspended in liquid. The particles have to be collected and separated from the liquid. This process is now done using filters and centrifuges,” Wereley said.

To view research findings about the technology, please visit a cover story of the Dec. 7 issue of Lab on a Chip magazine.

Purdue's current research focuses on: life and health sciences, energy, environment, water and climate change, security, defense and space sciences, cyber/information technology science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, HealthTechZone said.

Edited by Braden Becker

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