Engineering Minute

Engineering Minute – Microfluidic Device Monitors Sickle Cell Disease

A group of reseachers at Florida Atlantic University have developed a new method to rapidly, reliably, and continuously monitor sickle cell disease. The microfluidics-based electical impedance sensor can monitor the disease without the use of microscopic imaging or biochemical markers. The results of their work was recently published in the journal ACS Sensors


“The combination of electrical impedance measurement and on-chip hypoxia control provides a promising method for rapid assessment of the dynamic processes of cell sickling and unsickling in patients with sickle cell disease,” says senior author Sarah Du, Ph.D. and assistant professor at Florida Atlantic University. “In addition, electrical impedance measurement is naturally quantitative, real-time, and offers a convenience in direct or indirect contact with the samples of interest, allowing integrations to microfluidics platform and optical microscopy.”

From the Florida Atlantic University article: "Findings from the study show that simultaneous microscopic imaging of morphological changes in the cell demonstrated the reliability and repeatability of the electrical impedance-based measurements of cell sickling and unsickling processes.

In the study, the researchers also established the correlations between the in vitro measurements and the patients’ hematological parameters, such as the levels of sickle hemoglobin (HbS) and fetal hemoglobin (HbF). These findings show a potential clinical relevance because it serves as a proof-of-concept of electrical impedance as a label-free, biophysical marker of cell sickling events as well as a sensitive tool for probing the dynamic cellular and subcellular processes beyond the optical microscopy. The developed electrical impedance sensor may potentially be used for assessing vaso-occlusion risk, disease severity, and therapeutic treatment in sickle cell disease."

Read more about the microfluidic device that monitors sickle cell disease at Florida Atlantic University