Biomarkers present a non-invasive means of detecting cancer because they can be obtained from body fluids. They can also be used for prognosis and assessing response to treatment. To limit interferences it is essential to pretreat biological samples before analysis. Sample preparation methods include extraction of analyte from an unsuitable matrix, purification, concentration or dilution and labeling. The many advantages offered by microfluidics include portability, speed, automation and integration. Because of the difficulties encountered in integrating this step in microfluidic devices most sample preparation methods are often carried out off-chip. In the fabrication of micro-total analysis systems it is important that all steps be integrated in a single platform. To fabricate polymeric microdevices, I prepared templates from silicon wafers by the process of photolithography. The design on the template was transferred to a polymer piece by hot embossing, and a complete device was formed by bonding the imprinted piece with a cover plate. I prepared affinity columns in these devices and used them for protein extraction. The affinity monolith was prepared from reactive monomers to facilitate immobilization of antibodies. Extraction and concentration of biomarkers on this column showed specificity to the target molecule. This shows that biomarkers could be extracted, purified and concentrated with the use of microfluidic affinity columns.I prepared negatively charged ion-permeable membranes in poly(methyl methacrylate) microchips by in situ polymerization just beyond the injection intersection. Cancer marker proteins were electrophoretically concentrated at the intersection by exclusion from this membrane on the basis of both size and charge, prior to microchip capillary electrophoresis. I optimized separation conditions to achieve baseline separation of the proteins. Band broadening and peak tailing were limited by controlling the preconcentration time. Under my optimized conditions a 40-fold enrichment of bovine serum albumin was achieved with 4 min of preconcentration while >10-fold enrichment was obtained for cancer biomarker proteins with just 1 min of preconcentration. I have also demonstrated that the processes of sample enrichment, on-chip fluorescence labeling and purification could be automated in a single voltage-driven platform. This required the preparation of a reversed-phase monolithic column, polymerized from butyl methacrylate monomers, in cyclic olefin copolymer microdevices. Samples enriched through solid phase extraction were labeled on the column, and much of the unreacted dye was rinsed off before elution. The retention and elution characteristics of fluorophores, amino acids and proteins on these columns were investigated. A linear relationship between eluted peak areas and protein concentration demonstrated that this technique could be used to quantify on-chip labeled samples. This approach could also be used to simultaneously concentrate, label and separate multiple proteins.



College and Department

Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Chemistry and Biochemistry



Date Submitted


Document Type





biomarkers, capillary electrophoresis, capillary electrochromatography, microfluidics, sample preparation