The importance of mass transport in the context of biosensing has been highlighted in several papers. Due to their small size that enhances interaction, functionalised microfluidic channels are particularly well suited to promote the capture of target cells (or molecules) in body fluids. However, small channel sizes typically limit the permissible flow-rate and hence the throughput. Here we describe a new multiscale device that can be optimised independently at the macro-, micro- and nano-scales. The device, composed of thousands of parallel microchannels within a membrane is easy to fabricate and enables optimal capture without compromising flow rate (throughput). I will describe its application in the context of liquid biopsy for the capture of rare circulating tumour cells (CTCs) in blood. Using spiked samples, we achieved capture efficiencies above 80%. Clinical data from 72 cancer patients and 65 healthy controls demonstrated a sensitivity of 100% and specificity of 97% when combined with conventional staining protocol. Using immunofluorescence labelling we identified PD-L1+ CTCs in 41% of patient (n=36) as potential responders to immune checkpoint inhibition therapy. These results suggest that our approach could provide a versatile tool to improve cancer management.
Dr Jérôme Charmet, is Professor HES B at HE Arc within the University of Applied Sciences of Western Switzerland (HES-SO) and Honorary Associate Professor at the Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick. He received his postgraduate training (MSc) in biomedical engineering at the University of Bern, Switzerland, and his PhD from the University of Cambridge, UK. He joined the University of Warwick in 2016 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2018. He then joined HE Arc in 2021 to pursue his research focusing on translational medical devices for personalized medicine. Over the years, he has gained extensive experience in microfluidics and biosensors as well as microfabrication and manufacturing processes. He was a Royal Society of Chemistry Lab on a Chip Emerging Investigator (2019) and a was elected member of the EPSRC Early Career Forum for Manufacturing Research in 2018.