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The use of biomagnetic separation techniques for the purification of cells and molecules is now widespread and known as an efficient purification method. Although there is always space to improve this technology as demonstrated by Bhuvanendran and colleagues in a recent paper. These researchers designed a microfluidic device to be applied for the capture of cells tagged with magnetic particles. The device is simple and efficient due to chip format that allows the integration of customizable permanent magnets, which create magnetic field gradients that provide the force necessary to retain the tagged cells within the chip. The effective capture of magnetic beads is based in the combination of magnetic and fluid dynamic forces since the fluid inside the chip has a constant laminar flow. The authors were able to predict the the cell separation effectiveness and the behavior of cells inside the chipwith afinite element analysis model. This model was useful to determine the best experimental condition for the design of the chip and its validity was confirmed experimentally.


The authors tested the technique by capturing white blood cells from whole human blood. To do this they used CD45-conjugated magnetic particles to label leukocytes in the blood samples. Then, the whole blood with magnetic beads was flown through the chip microfluidic system under the influence of a magnetic gradient field. This allowed the labeled white blood cells to be retained inside the chip while all the remaining blood cells were flushed through. After the elution of blood cells, white blood cells where recovered by removing the magnetic field and flushing them through the device. This protocol was successful with a capture efficiency of 99.9%. This shows that the device can be applied for both negative and positive selection of cells.

Microfluidic immunomagnetic cell separation from whole blood.Bhuvanendran Nair Gourikutty, S., Chang, C. P. &Puiu, P. D. B J. Chromatogr.1011, 77–88 (2016).


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Lluis M. Martínez | SEPMAG Chief Scientific Officer

Founder of SEPMAG, Lluis holds a PhD in Magnetic Materials by the UAB. He has conducted research at German and Spanish academic institutions. Having worked in companies in Ireland, USA and Spain, he has more than 20 years of experience applying magnetic materials and sensors to industrial products and processes. He has filed several international patents on the field and co-authored more than 20 scientific papers, most of them on the subject of magnetic particle movement.

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