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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Faster, better, and cheaper: harnessing microfluidics and mass spectrometry for biotechnology.


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 widely-used mass spectrometry ionization techniques that have been successfully integrated with microfluidics approaches such as continuous-flow system, microchip electrophoresis, droplet microfluidics, digital microfluidics, centrifugal microfluidics, and paper microfluidics. In addition, we discuss recent applications of microfluidics integrated with mass spectrometry in single-cell analysis, compound screening, and the study of microorganisms. Lastly, we provide future outlooks towards online coupling, improving the sensitivity and integration of multi-omics into a single platform.

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