10x Technology, LLC logo

Loading news...

12.12.12 – Miniaturizing the Laboratory

December 12, 2012

Miniaturizing the Laboratory

Volume 2, Issue 2. December 2012.


Imagine being able to get all your blood work done from the convenience of your home with just a pin prick of your blood! Today’s glucose meters already make this a reality. Advances in microfluidic technology will increase the range of diagnostic capability to many other tests.
Microfluidic biochips, or lab-on-a-chip, integrate multiple laboratory assay operations such as detection, as well as sample pre-treatment and sample preparation on one chip just centimeters in size. This integration leads to unparalleled benefits such as cost reduction, higher throughput, scalability and small footprint/portability.


Technically, Microfluidics is the precise control and manipulation of very small fluid flows, usually in the order of microliters or nanoliters (a drop of water is approximately 25 microliters). The technology emerged in the 1980s and ironically the first successful implementation of the technology was outside the life sciences domain when HP introduced the Thinkjet inkjet printer. Since then, microfluidics has seen significant R&D and advancements in the life sciences field. Applications where Microfluidics are currently used include:
  • Clinical and veterinary diagnostics: Laboratory equipments for clinical and veterinary diagnostics
  • Point of care (POC) diagnostics: Out of the lab diagnostic equipments, for near patient testing, intensive care, doctor office.
  • Pharmaceutical and life sciences research: Principally microfluidic devices for drug discovery, screening
  • Proteomics, Genomics and Analytical devices such as Microfluidic cartridges for Mass spectrometry, Chromatography and HPLC sample preparation
  • Industrial and environmental testing: Microfluidic-based tests for quality and process control, water testing (pesticides, bacteria, etc.). This also includes military and security applications
  • Drug delivery: Microfluidic devices for drug delivery, such as inhalers, microneedles, implantable micropumps
The microfluidics market is expected to grow over 20% in the next five years reaching $4 billion by 2016. Two applications driving market expansion include point-of-care (POC) diagnostics and pharmaceutical research. Drug discovery was the first microfluidics market, and has continued to grow significantly. However, the largest growth is expected in the field of Point of Care diagnostics.


Point of Care diagnostics allows for near patient/home testing. As a microfluidic device integrates multiple laboratory functions onto one chip in a small size this allows researchers to experiment on tiny sample sizes, and also to simultaneously perform multiple experiments on the same material. They could lead to instant home tests for illnesses, food contaminants and toxic gases, among other advances.


The technology has demonstrated strong potential to transform the R&D, and commercialization of life sciences through miniaturization of POC diagnostics as well as a range of other applications such as proteomics, genomics and drug discovery. A key issue in broader adoption is scalability and access to high volume, low cost manufacturing that will take these products from the research laboratory to real-life commercial clinical applications.


At 10x, we have used our microreplication technology to design, master, tool and manufacture Microfluidic arrays in a range of commercially available polymers that could be used in POC diagnostics. We have supplied prototypes to several companies for testing and we stand ready to support their needs to scale up production when needed using our contract manufacturing platform.


The 10x continuous manufacturing process is capable of producing precision Microfluidic arrays (see table for tolerances) in large volumes at a low cost – this would be hundreds of millions of Microfluidic arrays today with potential to scale up as the industry requires.


We join many of others in the life sciences community who are anxious to see this promising technology commercialized. For additional information on 10x Microfluidics technology, please contact Laurence Hayward at lhayward@10xtechnology.com or at (312) 508-3174.  


Sources: 1. Microfluidic Substrates Market & Processing trends, Yole Development, 2012
2. Emerging Markets for Microfluidic Applications, Yole Development 2009
3. Microfluidics Meets its Market, Megan M. Stephen, The Scientist, 2005