Cell Mechanics Based Microfluidic Platforms for Liquid Biopsy and Personalized Medicine

Thursday, October 5, 2017 -
2:00pm to 3:00pm
The FUNG Auditorium
Chwee Teck (C.T.) Lim

Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanobiology Institute

National University of Singapore

Cell Mechanics Based Microfluidic Platforms for Liquid Biopsy and Personalized Medicine


There are approximately 5 billion cells in one milliliter of blood with red blood cells (RBCs) accounting for >99% of the cellular components. Besides blood constituents, diseased cells such circulating tumor cells (CTCs) can also be present in peripheral blood arising from metastasis.  In fact, this is of clinical significance as their presence in blood can present possible routes for cancer detection, diagnosis and even therapy. However, the large number of RBCs complicates cancer diagnosis as it makes detection of these rare CTCs in blood extremely challenging. Here, we address these issues and demonstrate that cell mechanics related biomarkers such as cell size and deformability can be effectively used for cancer cell detection and isolation from blood using microfluidics. We do this by leveraging on its many inherent advantages such as high sensitivity, small sample volume, short processing time and low cost. We develop a suite of microfluidic biochips that not only allows for the retrieval of CTCs from peripheral blood of patients via a routine blood draw (aka liquid biopsy), but also enables the selection of individual specific CTCs for downstream single cell analysis.  These simple, efficient and cost effective microfluidic platforms will be imperative in realizing effective diagnostics through the enrichment of clinical samples for subsequent downstream single cell analysis, molecular analysis and genetic sequencing for detection of druggable mutation for personalized treatment.  


Professor Lim is the inaugural NUSS Professor at the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanobiology Institute at NUS. His research interests are interdisciplinary and include human disease mechanobiology and the development of microfluidic technologies for disease diagnosis and therapy. Prof Lim has authored more than 320 journal papers, 28 book chapters and delivered more than 310 plenary/keynote/invited talks. He is an elected Fellow of both the AIMBE and the IAMBE. He is also an elected council member of the World Council of Biomechanics. He currently sits on the editorial boards of 20 journals. Prof Lim has co-founded one incubator and five startup companies. He and his team have garnered more than 70 research awards and honors including being winner of IDTechEx Launchpad 2017, International Precision Medicine Conference Prize 2017, ASEAN Outstanding Engineering Achievement Award 2016, Asian 100 Scientist 2016, University’s Outstanding Researcher Award 2014, Credit Suisse Technopreneur of the Year Award and Wall Street Journal Asian Innovation Award (Gold) 2012, and President's Technology Award 2011 among others.