This biomedical device uses a microtube membrane and pump to enable low voltage, highly efficient cell electroporation capable of continuous controllable flow, thereby improving its application in cell transfection. Electroporation is a transfection technique in which a voltage is applied to a cell medium in order to increase the cell membrane’s permeability, which allows for chemicals, drugs, or DNA to be introduced into the cells. Transfection involves producing genetically modified cells by delivering foreign nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) into the cell. The global transfection technology market is expected to grow to $770 million by 2019. Available commercial electroporators apply electric pulses at high voltages (around 2,000 V) to electrodes in a cuvette containing a limited volume of cell medium. Researchers at the University of Florida have developed a microtube membrane for use in cell electroporation. The membrane permits electroporation with much lower voltages (below 5 V), resulting in a ten-fold increase in cell transfection efficiency and higher cell viability. Additionally, various volumes of cells may flow through the membrane, supporting continuous electroporation.
Flow-through electroporation device using a microtube membrane for more efficient cell transfection
While a voltage (4 V) is applied to or across the membrane to generate an electric field inside the microtubes, cells are pumped through the microtubes. The strong electric field inside the microtubes causes the cell membranes to become more permeable, allowing for transfection of the cell to occur at high efficiency under low voltages.