Researchers, including those of Indian-origin, have developed a new technology that uses an oscillating electric field to easily and quickly remove nanoparticles from blood.
Engineers at the University of California, San Diego in US, evolved an electronic chip which could also serve as a general tool to separate and recover nanoparticles from other complex fluids for medical, environmental and industrial applications.
Nanoparticles, which are generally one thousand times smaller than the width of a human hair, are difficult to separate from plasma, the liquid component of blood, due to their small size and low density.
Traditional methods to remove nanoparticles from plasma samples, such as diluting the plasma or adding a high concentration sugar solution to the plasma and spinning it, either alter the normal behaviour of the nanoparticles or cannot be applied to some of the most common nanoparticle types.
“This is the first example of isolating a wide range of nanoparticles out of plasma with a minimum amount of manipulation,” said Stuart Ibsen from the University of California, San Diego’s NanoEngineering Department.
“We’ve designed a very versatile technique that can be used to recover nanoparticles in a lot of different processes,” he said.
This new technology will help researchers to better monitor what happens to nanoparticles circulating in a patient’s bloodstream.
This nanoparticle separation technology can also be used in the clinic to determine if the blood chemistry of a particular patient is compatible with the surfaces of certain drug-delivery nanoparticles, said researchers including Santosh Kesari, Professor of Neurosciences at UC San Diego School of Medicine and Rajesh Mukthavaram, Assistant Project Scientist at UC San Diego.
The dime-sized electric chip contains hundreds of tiny electrodes that generate a rapidly oscillating electric field that selectively pulls the nanoparticles out of a plasma sample.
“It’s amazing that this method works without any modifications to the plasma samples or to the nanoparticles,” Ibsen added.