Their new device uses a combination of microfluidics and sound waves to isolate these exosomes from blood.
“These exosomes often contain specific molecules that are a signature of certain abnormalities. If you isolate them from blood, you can do biological analysis and see what they reveal,” says Ming Dao, a principal research scientist in MIT’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering and a senior author of the study, which appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of Sept. 18.
In 2014, the same team of researchers first reported that they could separate cells by exposing them to sound waves as they flowed through a tiny channel. In the first, sound waves are used to remove cells and platelets from a blood sample.
Once the cells and platelets are removed, the sample enters a second microfluidic unit, which uses sound waves of a higher frequency to separate exosomes from slightly larger extracellular vesicles.
“The new technique can address the drawbacks of the current technologies for exosome isolation, such as long turnaround time, inconsistency, low yield, contamination, and uncertain exosome integrity,” Huang says.
“The new acoustofluidic technology has the potential to dramatically improve the process of isolation of exosomes and other extracellular vesicles from blood and other bodily fluids,” Sadovsky says.