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New review article discusses microfluidic systems, mass spectrometry, and high-throughput bioassays

A review paper was recently published in RSC Chemical Biology by researchers at the Northen Lab. Dr. Noel Ha and 4 other scientists reviewed recent microfluidic approaches that have been successfully integrated with mass spectrometry analysis for high-throughput bioassays to improve throughput, sensitivity, and specificity.

Figure credit: Amber Golini

High-throughput screening technologies are widely used for elucidating biological activities. These typically require trade-offs in assay specificity and sensitivity to achieve higher throughput. Microfluidic approaches enable rapid manipulation of small volumes and have found a wide range of applications in biotechnology providing improved control of reaction conditions, faster assays, and reduced reagent consumption. The integration of mass spectrometry with microfluidics has the potential to create high-throughput, sensitivity, and specificity assays. This review introduces the major ionization techniques of mass spectrometry that have been successfully integrated with microfluidic systems such as continuous-flow system, microchip electrophoresis, droplet microfluidics, digital microfluidics, centrifugal microfluidics, and paper microfluidics. In addition, this work discusses recent high-impact applications in single-cell analysis, compound screening, and the study of microorganisms. Lastly, future outlooks on multiple aspects of these technologies were discussed to broaden their applications.


Noel S. Ha, Markus de Raad, La Zhen Han, Amber Golini, Christopher Petzold, Trent R. Northen. “Faster, Better, and Cheaper: Harnessing Microfluidics and Mass Spectrometry for Biotechnology”. RSC Chemical Biology. 2021, DOI: 10.1039/d1cb00112d