High-throughput malaria parasite separation using a viscoelastic fluid for ultrasensitive PCR detection

Jeonghun Nam, Yong Shin, Justin Kok Soon Tan, Ying Bena Lim, Chwee Teck Lim, Sangho Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


A novel microfluidic device for high-throughput particle separation using a viscoelastic fluid, which enables the rapid detection of extremely rare malaria parasites by using PCR analysis, is proposed. Our device consists of two segments: the 1st stage for sheathless pre-alignment and the 2nd stage for separation based on size-dependent viscoelasticity-induced lateral migration. The use of a high-aspect ratio channel and a viscoelastic polymer solution with low viscosity enables high-throughput processing. The device performance was first optimized using synthetic particles. A mixture of 2 and 10 μm particles was focused at the center plane in the 1st stage. The smaller particles, serving as surrogates for malaria parasites, were subsequently separated in the 2nd stage with a recovery rate of ∼96% at 400 μl min-1. Finally, separation of the malaria parasites from the white blood cells was performed. At 400 μl min-1, almost all white blood cells were removed and the malaria parasites were separated with a ∼94% recovery rate and ∼99% purity. Although the initial concentration of the malaria parasites was too low to be detected by PCR analysis, WBC depletion and buffer removal increased the parasite concentration sufficiently such that PCR detection was possible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2086-2092
Number of pages7
JournalLab on a chip
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Singapore National Medical Research Council (NMRC)/Cooperative Basic Research Grant (CBRG)/0078/2014 and also partially by the Korea Health Technology R&D Project through the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI) funded by the Ministry of Health & Welfare, Republic of Korea (HI15C-2774-020015).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Royal Society of Chemistry 2016.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biomedical Engineering


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