May 30, 2017 | Research by CNSI Faculty Highlighted in Nature Technology Feature

Meghan Steele Horan | May 30, 2017

Considering the similar scales and fluid environments, engineered micro- and nanofluidic devices appear ideally suited to diagnose, simulate, and probe biological systems.

Groundbreaking work on biomedical microfluidic devices by CNSI member Dino Di Carlo, UCLA professor of bioengineering, and his research group was recently highlighted as a technology feature in the journal Nature. Microfluidics is the science behind manipulating and controlling small amounts of liquids in confined spaces. The technology feature describes a method of sample preparation powered by microfluidic devices for isolating circulating tumor cells (CTCs), which can reveal a tumor’s origin and mutations. The microfluidic chips developed by the Di Carlo Lab are made from PDMS, a type of transparent polymer similar to rubber. Di Carlo and his team use photolithography to fabricate molds for replicating micro-structured PDMS devices in the CNSI Integrated Systems Nanofabrication Cleanroom, one of the Institute’s Technology Centers that integrates advanced semiconductor processes with bio-compatible substrates for next-generation device fabrication. Microfluidic circuits, chips and devices like these are examples of tools that the Di Carlo Lab is building to make diagnosis of genetic diseases faster, cheaper and more reliable. Di Carlo’s current research interests include inertial microfluidics, mechanics of cancer and metastasis, automated cell biology, and regenerative biomaterials.