THERMOPLASTIC MICROFLUIDIC PCR TECHNOLOGIES FOR NEAR-PATIENT DIAGNOSTICS
Sposito, Alex J.
DeVoe, Don L
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Microfluidic technologies have great potential to help create portable, scalable, and cost-effective devices for rapid polymerase chain reaction (PCR) diagnostics in near patient settings. Unfortunately, current PCR diagnostics have not reached ubiquitous use in such settings because of instrumentation requirements, operational complexity, and high cost. This dissertation demonstrates a novel platform that can provide reduced assay time, simple workflow, scalability, and integration in order to better meet these challenges. First, a disposable microfluidic chip with integrated Au thin film heating and sensing elements is described herein. The system employs capillary pumping for automated loading of sample into the reaction chamber, combined with an integrated hydrophilic valve for precise self-metering of sample volumes into the device. With extensive multiphysics modeling and empirical testing we were able to optimize the system and achieve cycle times of 14 seconds and completed 35 PCR cycles plus HRMA in a total of 15 minutes, for successful identification of a mutation in the G6PC gene indicative of von Gierke’s disease. Next, a scalable sample digitization method that exploits the controlled pinning of fluid at geometric discontinuities within an array of staggered microfluidic traps is described. A simple geometric model is developed to predict the impact of device geometry on sample filling and discretization, and validated experimentally using fabricated cyclic olefin polymer devices. Finally, a 768-element staggered trap array is demonstrated, with highly reliable passive loading and discretization achieved within 5 min. Finally, a technique for reagent integration by pin spotting affords simplified workflow, and the ability to perform multiplexed PCR. Reagent printing formulations were optimized for stability and volume consistency during spotting. Paraffin wax was demonstrated as a protective layer to prevent rehydration and reagent cross contamination during sample loading. Deposition was accomplished by a custom pin spotting tool. A staggered trap array device with integrated reagents successfully amplified and validated a 2-plex assay, showing the potential of the platform for a multiplexed antibiotic resistance screening panel.