DETROIT Two National Science Foundation (NSF) grants to a Wayne State University researcher could amount to far more than a drop in the bucket when it comes to handling liquids for biological screening.
Amar Basu, Ph.D., assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and biomedical engineering in the College of Engineering, recently received the grants, which total $636,000, to support his work on microfluidic technologies in an effort to help scientists rapidly conduct thousands of chemical, genetic and pharmacological tests through a process called high-throughput screening (HTS).
The process is used to identify active compounds, antibodies or genes that modulate biomolecular pathways and can provide the information necessary to design drugs and understand individual biochemical processes. HTS is usually cost-prohibitive because it relies on sophisticated liquid handling robotics, sensitive detectors and, last but not least, the significant recurring cost of expensive biochemical reagents.
Since joining Wayne State in 2008, Basu has been developing techniques for performing biological analysis in microdroplets with nanoliter-picoliter volumes 1,000 to 1 million times smaller than conventional technology.
Analyzing small volumes of a substance, or assays, is a growing trend in the modern biotechnology industry because it dramatically reduces the costs of HTS reagents, improves assay speed and enables new capabilities, such as the ability to culture single cells and control their microenvironment.
"Droplet microreactors have a clear economic benefit in high-throughput biology because the smaller your assay volume, the cheaper it's going to be," Basu said. "From a scientific standpoint, microreactors can give us exciting new ways to study biology at really small size scales, comparable to individual cells.
"One of the challenges, though, is how we physically handle these tiny droplets, and mon
|Contact: Julie O'Connor|
Wayne State University - Office of the Vice President for Research