We have developed a non-destructive imaging flow cell-sorting system using an ultra-high-speed camera (shutter speed of 1/10,000 s) with a real-time image analysis unit and a poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA)-based disposable microfluidic chip for single-cell-based on-chip cellomics. It has a 3-D micropipetting device that supports fully automated sorting and collection of samples. The entire fluidic system is implemented in a disposable plastic chip, enabling biological samples to be lined up in a laminar flow using hydrodynamic focusing. Its optical system enables direct observation-based cell identification using specific image indexes and phase-contrast/fluorescence microscopy, real-time image processing. It has a non-destructive, wider dynamic range, sorting procedure using mild electrostatic force in a laminar flow; agarose gel electrodes are used to prevent electrode loss and electrolysis bubble formation. The microreservoir used for recultivating collected target cells is contamination-free. An integrated ultra-high-speed droplet polymerase chain reaction measurement module is used for DNA/mRNA analysis of the collected target cells. This system was used to separate cardiomyocyte cells from a mixture of various cells. All the operations were automated using the 3-D micropipetting device. The results demonstrate that this imaging flow cell-sorting system is practically applicable for biological research and clinical diagnosis.
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