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Biomed Microdevices. 2008 Dec;10(6):777. doi: 10.1007/s10544-008-9190-7.

Sample preparation: the weak link in microfluidics-based biodetection.

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Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA, 94550, USA.


As a broad generalization, clinicians and laboratory personnel who use microfluidics-based automated or semi-automated instrumentation to perform biomedical assays on real-world samples are more pleased with the state of the assays than they are with the state of the front-end sample preparation. The end-to-end procedure requires one to collect, manipulate, prepare, and analyze the sample. The appeal of microfluidics for this procedure is partly based on its combination of small size and its ability to process very small liquid volumes, thus minimizing the use of possibly expensive reagents. However, real-world samples are often large and incompatible with the input port and the mum-scale channels of a microfluidic device, and very small liquid volumes can be inappropriate in analyzing low concentrations of target analytes. It can be a worthy challenge to take a raw sample, introduce it into a microfluidics-based system, and perform the sample preparation, which may include separation and concentration of the target analytes, so that one can benefit from the reagent-conserving small volumes and obtain the correct answer when finally implementing the assay of interest.

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