Why Microfluidics are Important to RARAF
The essence of single cell microbeams is that they allow precise doses of targeted irradiation of individual cells within a population. However, the post-irradiation analysis of the irradiated cells is typically performed with tools designed for much larger samples. Many of the endpoints under study require culturing or similar handling in macroscopic vials.
Microfluidics, on the other hand, is well-suited to handle individual cells. Using a microfluidic device, liquids and cell suspensions are constrained to scales on the order of a cell size, where “micro” forces such as surface tension overtake “macro” forces such as gravity. Lab-on-a-Chip devices have become popular and allow performing many of the steps performed in macroscopic assays on individual cells. Microfluidic devices containing microvalves, heating, and cooling elements, mixing elements and so on have allowed complex analysis protocols to be performed on single cells in a flow-through device. Integrating microfluidic devices with microbeams allows tapping into this vast field of single-cell analysis and using the many tools it provides for studying radiation responses in single cells.