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The Advanced Microfluidics and Microdevices Laboratory (AMMLab) is currently working with diverse facets of miniaturization and integration in biology, life sciences, and medicine, which includes the conception, engineering, and utilization of novel micro and nanotechnologies to manipulate, stimulate and study biological entities.
One of the key targets of the AMMLab is to develop devices that allow for innovative experimentation for a better understanding of basic biology, such as studying how cancer cells migrate from one place to another during metastasis, and how white blood cells respond to infections. Another key target is to engineer miniaturized devices for point-of-care diagnostics and clinical applications, such as developing devices for capturing circulating tumor cells from blood samples taken from cancer patients, and devices to isolate fetal cells from maternal blood for early non-invasive genetic analysis.
Healthcare systems represent one of the six national priorities of the UAE Vision 2021, which is recognized as a key focus sector by the UAE National Innovation Strategy and also signifies an important component of the Economic Vision 2030 of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. The work carried out at the AMMLab aligns with this area in bringing world-class healthcare systems to the UAE and the entire Middle East region.
Most notably, cancer is an important concern, with 78 deaths per 100,000 of the UAE population and it is the intention to reduce this to 64.2 deaths per 100,000 by 2021. The current cancer-related projects being developed in the AMMLab aim to introduce microfluidic devices to capture circulating tumor cells from cancer blood samples and also for forming an array of 3D cancer micro-tissues inside microfluidic chips for high-throughput drug testing. Capturing, enumerating, and characterizing circulating tumor cells from blood samples represents the concept of “liquid biopsy” and brings valuable information to clinics about cancer progression and potential relapses while developing living biochips with 3D cancer micro-tissues for drug testing brings the concept of personalized chemotherapeutics that can be finely-tuned depending on cancer progression.