417364 Dielectrophoretic Separation of Babesia-Infected Erythrocytes

Monday, November 9, 2015: 1:30 PM
Ballroom E (Salt Palace Convention Center)
Ezekiel Adekanmbi, Chemical and Material Engineering, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID and Soumya Srivastava, Chemical and Materials Engineering, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID

Babesia species are obligate intraerythrocytic tick-borne protozoan parasites that are the etiologic agents of babesiosis, a potentially life-threatening, malaria-like illness in humans. Babesia-infected people have been known to suffer from complications including liver problems, severe hemolytic anaemia and kidney failure. As reported to the Food and Drug Administration, human Babesiosis accounts for almost all of the 38% mortality cases observed in transfusion recipients. As of now, no tests have been licensed yet for screening blood donors for Babesiosis. Current diagnostic tools for Babesiosis including Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay (ELISA), Fluorescence in Situ Hybridization (FISH), Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) are expensive and burdened with multifarious shortcomings. We present, here, a low-cost, high-specificity, quick, and easy-to-use electrokinetic diagnostic tool for separating Babesia-infected cells.  In this work, we exposed a mixture of Babesia-infected (varying parasitemia) and healthy red blood cells to non-uniform electric fields in a fabricated microfluidic platform to manipulate and isolate the Babesia-infected cells within a minute. At DC voltage configurations of 10V, 0/6V in the inlet and two outlet channels respectively, the diseased cells were seen to flow in a direction different from the healthy red blood cells’. This result shows that our microdevice, when fully developed into a point-of-care, lab-on-a-chip diagnostic device, could be used to screen donors’ blood for Babesiosis at donation centers, thus preventing contamination of the blood bank. The project is ongoing and future work will focus on differentiating the various other species of Babesia and their co-infecting agents.

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