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Microfluidic Hemostasis Monitor

A more sensitive coagulation assay for the rapid prediction of blood clotting in patients

The hemostasis monitoring microdevice mimics rapid changes in blood flow dynamics associated with stenosis or narrowing of small blood vessels by pumping pressurized blood flow through the device’s microfluidic channels. In this schematic and series of magnified insets, from left to right the microfluidic channels progress from pre-stenosis, to stenosis, to post-stenosis, simulating the narrowing of blood vessels that can often occur in patients as a result of medical conditions or treatments. The effects of stenosis on blood clotting tendency are visible: blood clotting protein fibrin (green) and blood platelets (red) are seen coagulating as they progress through the device, and most notably in the post-stenotic region. Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University

The body’s ability to stop bleeding, also known as hemostasis, is critical for survival. For patients with blood clotting disorders, medical conditions requiring the use of anticoagulation or antiplatelet drugs, or who require treatment with extracorporeal devices that circulate their blood outside of the body, it is essential that care providers can rapidly monitor their ability to maintain healthy homeostasis while preventing clotting.

Wyss Institute researchers have developed a novel microfluidic device in which blood flows through a life-like network of hollow channels the size of small arterioles in our bodies. Within the device, blood is subject to true-to-life shear stresses and force gradients of the human vascular network. Using automated pressure sensors and a proprietary algorithm, data acquired from the device is analyzed in real-time, precisely predicting the time at which fibrin and platelets in blood will form clots and obstruct the blood vessel network. The real-time monitoring ability of the device could assess patients’ coagulation status almost continuously when in surgery or connected to extracorporeal devices, in stark contrast to today’s standard of once or twice a day testing procedures. In addition, the device can detect abnormal platelet function in patients with rare bleeding disorders that are not easily identifiable using conventional assays.

By combining our fabricated microfluidic device that mimics blood flow dynamics of small arterioles with our novel data analysis software, we can rapidly quantitate hemostasis in real-time and predict if blood clots will develop in an individual or blood sample.

Donald E. Ingber

With translation and versatility in mind, the hemostasis monitoring device is build with inexpensive in-line pressure sensors to measure clot formation. As a result, the device does not require additional instrumentation and can be integrated directly into the blood-lines of indwelling catheters or extracorporeal devices. In addition to diagnosing and caring for patients with diseases that affect the blood’s normal ability to clot, the device also could be deployed in operating or emergency rooms to help physicians control bleeding from injuries or surgical procedures, and in medical procedures where a patient’s blood is circulated outside the body during hemodialysis or open-heart surgery to better regulate the levels of drugs used to control blood clotting.

This technology is available for licensing.

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