Tangential flow microfluidics for the capture and release of nanoparticles and extracellular vesicles on conventional and ultrathin membranes.
ABSTRACT: Membranes have been used extensively for the purification and separation of biological species. A persistent challenge is the purification of species from concentrated feed solutions such as extracellular vesicles (EVs) from biological fluids. We investigated a new method to isolate micro- and nano-scale species termed tangential flow for analyte capture (TFAC), which is an extension of traditional tangential flow filtration (TFF). Initially, EV purification from plasma on ultrathin nanomembranes was compared between both normal flow filtration (NFF) and TFAC. NFF resulted in rapid formation of a protein cake which completely obscured any captured EVs and also prevented further transport across the membrane. On the other hand, TFAC showed capture of CD63 positive small EVs (sEVs) with minimal contamination. We explored the use of TFAC to capture target species over membrane pores, wash and then release in a physical process that does not rely upon affinity or chemical interactions. This process of TFAC was studied with model particles on both ultrathin nanomembranes and conventional thickness membranes (polycarbonate track-etch). Successful capture and release of model particles was observed using both membranes. Ultrathin nanomembranes showed higher efficiency of capture and release with significantly lower pressures indicating that ultrathin nanomembranes are well-suited for TFAC of delicate nanoscale particles such as EVs.
Project description:Silicon nanomembranes are ultrathin, highly permeable, optically transparent and biocompatible substrates for the construction of barrier tissue models. Trans-epithelial/endothelial electrical resistance (TEER) is often used as a non-invasive, sensitive and quantitative technique to assess barrier function. The current study characterizes the electrical behavior of devices featuring silicon nanomembranes to facilitate their application in TEER studies. In conventional practice with commercial systems, raw resistance values are multiplied by the area of the membrane supporting cell growth to normalize TEER measurements. We demonstrate that under most circumstances, this multiplication does not 'normalize' TEER values as is assumed, and that the assumption is worse if applied to nanomembrane chips with a limited active area. To compare the TEER values from nanomembrane devices to those obtained from conventional polymer track-etched (TE) membranes, we develop finite element models (FEM) of the electrical behavior of the two membrane systems. Using FEM and parallel cell-culture experiments on both types of membranes, we successfully model the evolution of resistance values during the growth of endothelial monolayers. Further, by exploring the relationship between the models we develop a 'correction' function, which when applied to nanomembrane TEER, maps to experiments on conventional TE membranes. In summary, our work advances the the utility of silicon nanomembranes as substrates for barrier tissue models by developing an interpretation of TEER values compatible with conventional systems.
Project description:Selective removal of nanometer-sized compounds such as proteins from fluids is an often challenging task in many scientific and industrial areas. Addressing such tasks with highly efficient and selective membranes is desirable since commonly used chromatographic approaches are expensive and difficult to scale up. Nanomembranes, molecularly thin separation layers, have been predicted and shown to possess outstanding properties but in spite ultra-fast diffusion times and high-resolution separation, to date they generally lack either of two crucial characteristics: compatibility with biological fluids and low-cost production. Here we report the fast and easy fabrication of highly crosslinked polymer membranes based on a thermoset resin (poly[(o-cresyl glycidyl ether)-co-formaldehyde (PCGF) cured with branched polyethyleneimine (PEI)) with nanoscale perforations of 25?nm diameter. During spin casting, microphase separation of a polylactide-co-glycolide induces the formation of nanometer sized domains that serve as templates for perforations which penetrate the 80?nm thick membranes. Ultrathin perforated nanomembranes can be freely suspended on the cm scale, exhibit high mechanical strength, low surface energies and a sharp permeability cutoff at a hydrodynamic diameter of 10?nm suitable for protein separations.
Project description:Freestanding graphene membranes are unique materials. The combination of atomically thin dimensions, remarkable mechanical robustness, and chemical stability make porous and non-porous graphene membranes attractive for water purification and various sensing applications. Nanopores in graphene and other 2D materials have been identified as promising devices for next-generation DNA sequencing based on readout of either transverse DNA base-gated current or through-pore ion current. While several ground breaking studies of graphene-based nanopores for DNA analysis have been reported, all methods to date require a physical transfer of the graphene from its source of production onto an aperture support. The transfer process is slow and often leads to tears in the graphene that render many devices useless for nanopore measurements. In this work, we report a novel scalable approach for site-directed fabrication of pinhole-free graphene nanomembranes. Our approach yields high quality few-layer graphene nanomembranes produced in less than a day using a few steps that do not involve transfer. We highlight the functionality of these graphene devices by measuring DNA translocation through electron-beam fabricated nanopores in such membranes.
Project description:Silicon nanomembrane technologies (NPN, pnc-Si, and others) have been used commercially as electron microscopy (EM) substrates, and as filters with nanometer-resolution size cut-offs. Combined with EM, these materials provide a platform for catching or suspending nanoscale-size structures for analysis. Usefully, the nanomembrane itself can be manufactured to achieve a variety of nanopore topographies. The size, shapes, and surfaces of nanopores will influence transport, fouling, sieving, and electrical behavior. Electron tomography (ET) techniques used to recreate nanoscale-sized structures would provide an excellent way to capture this variation. Therefore, we modified a sample holder to accept our standardized 5.4 mm × 5.4 mm silicon nanomembrane chips and imaged NPN nanomembranes (50?100 nm thick, 10?100 nm nanopore diameters) using transmission electron microscopy (TEM). After imaging and ET reconstruction using a series of freely available tools (ImageJ, TomoJ, SEG3D2, Meshlab), we used COMSOL Multiphysics™ to simulate fluid flow inside a reconstructed nanopore. The results show flow profiles with significantly more complexity than a simple cylindrical model would predict, with regions of stagnation inside the nanopores. We expect that such tomographic reconstructions of ultrathin nanopores will be valuable in elucidating the physics that underlie the many applications of silicon nanomembranes.
Project description:Conventional hemodialysis (HD) uses floor-standing instruments and bulky dialysis cartridges containing ?2 m2 of 10 micrometer thick, tortuous-path membranes. Portable and wearable HD systems can improve outcomes for patients with end-stage renal disease by facilitating more frequent, longer dialysis at home, providing more physiological toxin clearance. Developing devices with these benefits requires highly efficient membranes to clear clinically relevant toxins in small formats. Here, the ability of ultrathin (<100 nm) silicon-nitride-based membranes to reduce the membrane area required to clear toxins by orders of magnitude is shown. Advanced fabrication methods are introduced that produce nanoporous silicon nitride membranes (NPN-O) that are two times stronger than the original nanoporous nitride materials (NPN) and feature pore sizes appropriate for middle-weight serum toxin removal. Single-pass benchtop studies with NPN-O (1.4 mm2 ) demonstrate the extraordinary clearance potential of these membranes (105 mL min-1 m-2 ), and their intrinsic hemocompatibility. Results of benchtop studies with nanomembranes, and 4 h dialysis of uremic rats, indicate that NPN-O can reduce the membrane area required for hemodialysis by two orders of magnitude, suggesting the performance and robustness needed to enable small-format hemodialysis, a milestone in the development of small-format hemodialysis systems.
Project description:The thorough understanding of the physiological and pathological processes mediated by extracellular vesicles (EVs) is challenged by purification methods which are cumbersome, not reproducible, or insufficient to yield homogeneous material. Chromatography based on both ion-exchange and immune-capture can represent an effective method to improve EV purification and successive analysis.Cell culture supernatant was used as a model sample for assessing the capacity of anion-exchange chromatography to separate distinct EV fractions and to isolate nanobodies by direct panning on whole EVs to recover binders specific for the native conformation of EV-surface epitopes and suitable to develop EV immune-capture reagents.Anion-exchange chromatography of cell culture supernatant separated distinct protein-containing fractions and all of them were positive for CD9, a biomarker associated to some EVs. This suggested the existence of several EV fractions but did not help in separating EVs from other contaminants. We further isolated several nanobodies instrumental for implementing immune-affinity protocols. These were able to immobilize EVs from both cell culture supernatant and biological samples, to be used in ELISA, flow-cytometry, and immune-purification.Here we report the first successful isolation of anti-EV nanobodies for the use in immunoaffinity-based EV capture by panning a phage library directly on partially purified EVs. This achievement paves the way for the application of direct EV panning for the discovery of novel antibody-vesicle surface biomarker pairs and represents the preliminary requirement for the development of selective immune-capture that, in combination with anion-exchange chromatography, can simplify the systematic stratification of EV sub-populations and their individual characterization.
Project description:Membrane rejection models generally neglect the effect of the pore entrance on intrapore particle transport. However, entrance effects are expected to be particularly important with ultrathin membranes, where membrane thickness is typically comparable to pore size. In this work, a 2D model was developed to simulate particle motion for spherical particles moving at small Re and infinite Pe from the reservoir outside the pore into a slit pore. Using a finite element method, particles were tracked as they accelerated across the pore entrance until they reached a steady velocity in the pore. The axial position in the pore where particle motion becomes steady is defined as the particle entrance length (PEL). PELs were found to be comparable to the fluid entrance length, larger than the pore size and larger than the thickness typical of many ultrathin membranes. Results also show that, in the absence of particle diffusion, hydrodynamic particle-membrane interactions at the pore mouth result in particle "funneling" in the pore, yielding cross-pore particle concentration profiles focused at the pore centerline. The implications of these phenomena on rejection from ultrathin membranes are examined.
Project description:Extracorporeal blood therapies such as hemodialysis and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation supplement or replace organ function by the exchange of molecules between blood and another fluid across a semi-permeable membrane. Traditionally, these membranes are made of polymers with large surface areas and thicknesses on the scale of microns. Therapeutic gas exchange or toxin cleara nce in these devices occurs predominantly by diffusion, a process that is described by an inverse square law relating a distance to the average time a diffusing particle requires to travel that distance. As such, small changes in membrane thickness or other device dimensions can have significant effects on device performance - and large changes can cause dramatic paradigm shifts. In this work, we discuss the application of ultrathin nanoporous silicon membranes (nanomembranes) with thicknesses on the scale of tens of nanometers to diffusion-mediated medical devices. We discuss the theoretical consequences of nanomembrane medical devices for patients, analyzing several notable benefits such as reduced device size (enabling wearability, for instance) and improved clearance specificity. Special attention is paid to computational and analytical models that describe real experimental behavior, and that in doing so provide insights into the relevant parameters governing the devices.
Project description:Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are nano-sized vesicles containing nucleic acid and protein cargo that are released from a multitude of cell types and have gained significant interest as potential diagnostic biomarkers. Human serum is a rich source of readily accessible EVs; however, the separation of EVs from serum proteins and non-EV lipid particles represents a considerable challenge. In this study, we compared the most commonly used isolation techniques, either alone or in combination, for the isolation of EVs from 200?µl of human serum and their separation from non-EV protein and lipid particles present in serum. The size and yield of particles isolated by each method was determined by nanoparticle tracking analysis, with the variation in particle size distribution being used to determine the relative impact of lipoproteins and protein aggregates on the isolated EV population. Purification of EVs from soluble protein was determined by calculating the ratio of EV particle count to protein concentration. Finally, lipoprotein particles co-isolated with EVs was determined by Western blot analysis of lipoprotein markers APOB and APOE. Overall, this study reveals that the choice of EV isolation procedure significantly impacts EV yield from human serum, together with the presence of lipoprotein and protein contaminants.
Project description:Polyamide nanomembranes are at the heart of water desalination, a process which plays a critical role in clean water production. Improving their efficiency requires a better understanding of the relationship between chemistry, network structure, and performance but few techniques afford compositional information in ultrathin films (<100 nm). Here, we leverage resonant soft x-ray reflectivity, a measurement that is sensitive to the specific chemical bonds in organic materials, to quantify the functional group concentration in these polyamides. We first employ reference materials to establish quantitative relationships between changes in the optical constants and functional group density, and then use the results to evaluate the functional group concentrations of polyamide nanomembranes. We demonstrate that the difference in the amide carbonyl and carboxylic acid group concentrations can be used to calculate the crosslink density, which is shown to vary significantly across three different polyamide chemistries. A clear relationship is established between the functional group density and the permselectivity (?), indicating that more densely crosslinked materials result in a higher ? of the nanomembranes. Finally, measurements on a polyamide/poly(acrylic acid) bilayer demonstrate the ability of this approach to quantify depth-dependent functional group concentrations in thin films.