Next generation microfluidic cell stretcher for breast cancer mechanotyping

Y. Deng, A.J. Chung
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute,
United States

Keywords: cancer, mechanical biomarkers, microfluidic cell stretcher


Mechanical biomarkers associated with cytoskeletal structures have been reported as powerful label-free cell state identifiers. However, it is of great challenge to measure single-cell level mechanical properties using traditional biophysical (AFM, micropipette aspiration, optical stretchers) and conventional microfluidic approaches due to their low-throughput, low-sensitivity, and/or time-consuming and labor-intensive processes. Here, we present a novel microfluidic cell stretcher as a next generation deformability cytometry capable of characterizing large populations of single-cell deformability near real-time. The platform inertially deforms cells upon collision at a T-junction with large strain in a simple microfluidic channel. The dynamic cell elongation motions are recorded, and thousands of cell deformability characterization information is visualized near real-time in a fully automated manner. Through our system, we measure stiffness changes in breast cancer progression, and expand the use of the platform for rapid drug discovery and vector-free macromolecule delivery. We also numerically investigate the cell deformation process to predict the shear moduli of cells on-the-fly.