Patent number 8765456 is assigned to
The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Developments in methods of manufacturing very small devices, such as microelectronic devices, have made it possible to precisely and reproducibly make devices having features with nanometer scale dimensions. Apart from use of such methods in microelectronic device production, similar technology has been used to make devices for handling biological materials, such as cells and macromolecules.
"Microengineered bio-handling devices having structural elements with minimal dimensions ranging from tens of micrometers (the dimensions of biological cells) to nanometers (the dimensions of some biological macromolecules) have been described. This range of dimensions (nanometers to tens of micrometers) is referred to herein as 'microscale.' For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,928,880, U.S. Pat. No. 5,866,345, U.S. Pat. No. 5,744,366, U.S. Pat. No. 5,486,335, and U.S. Pat. No. 5,427,946 describe microscale devices for handling cells and biological molecules.
"Hemocytometry is a field of medical analysis and research wherein blood cells are analyzed using variety of techniques and devices. Basic manually-operated devices such as microscope slides with Neubauer or Makler chambers were developed over a century ago. These devices are expensive, reusable, and lack flexibility, multiple features, and disposability. Disposability is especially desirable to minimize medical personnel interaction with potentially hazardous biological specimens.
"Every year, approximately 500,000 patients are diagnosed with blood disorders worldwide, including about 30,000 per year in
"Blood drawn from the umbilicus shortly after delivery ('cord blood') is a rich source of hematopoietic stem cells. Cord blood storage methods are presently known and used commercially, but have the drawback that a relatively large volume (e.g., 100 to 250 milliliters) of blood must be stored in order to preserve a sufficient number of hematopoietic stem cells for use in future medical procedures. The large volume of cord blood that is stored increases the cost and decreases the convenience of the procedure. The stored volume could be decreased significantly (e.g., to 0.1 to 1 milliliter) if stem cells could be separated from cord blood prior to storage. However, present methods of separating stem cells from cord blood are expensive and cumbersome and are sometimes ineffective. The present invention overcomes the shortcomings of previously known stem cell separation methods and facilitates efficient and cost-effective separation of stem cells from cord blood."
In addition to the background information obtained for this patent, VerticalNews journalists also obtained the inventor's summary information for this patent: "The invention relates to a microscale apparatus for separating cells. The apparatus comprises a body, a cover, and a separation element. The body defines a void having inlet and outlet regions. A separation region is interposed between the inlet and outlet regions. The cover contacts the body and covers at least the separation region of the void. The separation element is disposed in the separation region of the void and contacts either the body or the cover. The separation element has a plurality of flat portions that are disposed at different distances from the cover or body (respectively) to form steps or ramps. The highest step, the walls of the void (i.e., the body) and the cover or body (depending on the configuration) define a narrow passageway through which fluid can pass from the inlet region to the outlet region. The separation element can be attached to, or integral with, either the body or the cover. The cover or the body can define one or more (preferably at least two) fluid ports for providing liquid to, and withdrawing liquid from, the void. Preferably, the cover, body, or both, define a fluid inlet port in fluid communication with the inlet region and a fluid outlet port in fluid communication with the outlet region. A fluid displacement device can be attached to one or both of the ports for providing fluid to the fluid inlet port, withdrawing fluid from the fluid outlet port, or both. Separate fluid handling devices can be attached to each of the inlet and outlet ports.
"The height of the narrow passageway, measured from the separation element to the cover, depends on the characteristic dimensions of the cells or particles that are to be retained or not to be retained. For the apparatus described herein, the height of the narrow passageway is generally in the range from 0.1 to 1000 micrometers (preferably in the range from 0.5 micrometer to 25 micrometers for animal or plant cells, or in the range 0.5 to 1.5 micrometers for bacteria).
"The apparatus can have one or more fluid channels defined by the body, the cover, the separation element, or some combination of these. These fluid channels can be used to withdraw fluid from the void at a step of the separation element. The apparatus can also have a device for detecting a cell, a device for manipulating a cell, or a device for killing a cell (e.g., a heating element) in the void at a step of the separation element.
"The apparatus can have a variety of surface modifications, such as an antibody attached to one or more of a surface of the separation element, a surface of the inlet region, a surface of the outlet region, and a surface of the cover.
"A plurality of the apparatus can be connected in series or in parallel.
"The invention also relates to a method of separating cells. The method comprises providing the cells to the inlet region of an apparatus of the type described herein and thereafter collecting cells from one of a step of the separation element, the outlet region, and the inlet region. Preferably, a fluid is passed from the inlet region to the outlet region after (and/or while) providing the cells to the inlet region, and the cells are collected from a step of the separation element. For example, the cells can be cells of a blood sample (e.g., a cord blood sample) and the collected cells can be stem cells. When a blood sample is used, the height of the narrow passageway is preferably sufficient to permit passage of blood platelets therethrough.
"The invention also includes a kit for separating cells. The kit comprises the components of the apparatus described herein, and can further comprise instructions or reagents for using the apparatus."
URL and more information on this patent, see: Hvichia, Georgi. Microstructure for Particle and Cell Separation, Identification, Sorting, and Manipulation. U.S. Patent Number 8765456, filed
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