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Cell Separation with Hybrid Magnetic Levitation-Based Lensless Holographic Microscopy Platform
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Separation of target cells in a heterogeneous solution is of great importance for clinical studies especially for immunology and oncology. Separated cells can be used for diagnostic applications ranging from whole blood counting to isolation of circulating tumor cells (CTC) for personalized medicine. Recent separation technologies rely on labelling and identifying target cells with variety of labelling principle such as fluorescence or magnetic tags. However, they require labor-intensive processes, long analysis time, and expensive chemical reagents and instrumentation. Hence, their usage is limited to well-equipped centralized laboratories. There is a need for a rapid, sensitive, low-cost and automated cell separation technology to disseminate usage of this technology even in rural areas. Magnetic levitation is a powerful cell separation method, which distinguishes cells based on their levitation heights depending on cell density. However, magnetic levitation-based separation technologies require traditional, bulky and expensive microscopes for analysis. Lensless digital inline holographic microscopy (LDIHM) systems are composed of a simple illumination system containing an LED, a pinhole, and an imaging sensor for high-resolution microscopic imaging, which eliminates needs of highly fragile and expensive optics as in traditional microscopy. Here, we introduced a novel hybrid and portable cell separation platform, where magnetic levitation technology is integrated with LDIHM system for automated analysis of cell levitation heights. Using this platform, three different cell lines are successfully separated. Live and dead cells having distinguished levitation heights can be also identified in the platform.