Catherine Klapperich joined the faculty of the Boston University College of Engineering in 2003. She is the director of the Biomedical Microdevices Laboratory in the Departments of Biomedical Engineering. She is also a member of the Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology at BU. Before coming to Boston, Dr. Klapperich was a Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in the lab of Dr. Carolyn Bertozzi, and was a Senior Research Scientist at Aclara Biosciences in Mountain View, CA. She earned her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering in 2000 from the University of California, Berkeley with Drs. Lisa Pruitt and Kyriakos Komvopoulos; her M.S. in Engineering Sciences from Harvard University and her B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from Northwestern University. Dr. Klapperich’s research is focused on engineering medical devices for use in low resource settings and at the point of care. Current projects are focused on disposable microfluidic diagnostics that incorporate on-board sample preparation and on minimally instrumented devices to enable molecular diagnostics.
High Throughput Cell Profiling of Cancer Tissue Cultures
The primary method for diagnosis of a suspicious cell growth in a patient is harvesting a tissue specimen then sending it off for analysis and cell profiling. The limiting factors of this analysis are the time for the results to be gathered, the amount of cells present for analysis, as well as the possibility of human error. In this study, we aim to address all three issues by utilizing a microfluidic chip. This chip allows us to isolate RNA, DNA, and miRNA using small volumes and small cell numbers. We also aim to minimize opportunities to introduce operator error into the cell profiling process. In the past three months, using two cancer cell lines, BCPAP, a thyroid cancer cell line, and MCF-7, a breast cancer cell line, we isolated miRNA using the microfluidic chip. The chip extraction method was effective from 500,000 cells down to five cells. We used qPCR assays for the miRNAs RNU44 and miRNA 222 to confirm and quantify our results. We also made cDNA from the isolated total RNA for all of the dilutions for more extensive analysis of RNA profiles. In the upcoming months, we expect to develop and perfect a protocol for the isolation of DNA and proteins using similar microfluidic solid phase extraction columns. Furthermore, we plan on making the protocol more efficient in terms of minimizing volumes and perfecting chip design to decrease the amount of time needed for extraction of the four cellular components.