CytoMech – Microfluidic System for Determination of Cell (Platelet) Stiffness

Project number: 
ACABI, supported by Craig M. Berge Design Program
Academic year: 
Blood clotting and related diseases account for the majority of hospitalizations and disease-related deaths in the United States, affecting more than 35 million people each year. By measuring the stiffness of platelets, medical researchers can create and refine implantable medical devices to reduce a patient’s risk of developing these life-threatening conditions.

The CytoMech is a compact and cost-effective system to measure platelet stiffness. Platelets are suspended inside a microfluidic chip, imaged by a fluorescence-based microscope camera, and analyzed by the team’s software system. The CytoMech uses a method known as dielectrophoresis to stretch platelets by subjecting them to a nonuniform electric field while the image analysis system measures the change in platelet size. Researchers can use a user-friendly graphical user interface to control the system, view the platelet while specifying the electrical force applied to it, and display the final result to the user. The system calculates the stiffness of the platelet based on the applied force and the deformation. By averaging the results of tests with multiple platelet samples, clinicians will be better able to evaluate the safety of implantable medical devices and diagnose a patient’s risk for thrombosis.

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