Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 394, Issue 3, pp 801–809 | Cite as

Separation of malignant human breast cancer epithelial cells from healthy epithelial cells using an advanced dielectrophoresis-activated cell sorter (DACS)

  • Jaemin An
  • Jangwon Lee
  • Sang Ho Lee
  • Jungyul Park
  • Byungkyu KimEmail author
Original Paper


In this paper, we successfully separated malignant human breast cancer epithelial cells (MCF 7) from healthy breast cells (MCF 10A) and analyzed the main parameters that influence the separation efficiency with an advanced dielectrophoresis (DEP)-activated cell sorter (DACS). Using the efficient DACS, the malignant cancer cells (MCF 7) were isolated successfully by noninvasive methods from normal cells with similar cell size distributions (MCF 10A), depending on differences between their material properties such as conductivity and permittivity, because our system was able to discern the subtle differences in the properties by generating continuously changed electrical field gradients. In order to evaluate the separation performance without considering size variations, the cells collected from each outlet were divided into size-dependent groups and counted statistically. Following that, the quantitative relative ratio of numbers between MCF 7 and MCF 10A cells in each size-dependent group separated by the DEP were compared according to applied frequencies in the range 48, 51, and 53 MHz with an applied amplitude of 8 Vpp. Finally, under the applied voltage of 48 MHz–8 Vpp and a flow rate of 290 μm/s, MCF 7 and MCF 10A cells were separated with a maximum efficiency of 86.67% and 98.73% respectively. Therefore, our suggested system shows it can be used for detection and separation of cancerous epithelial cells from noncancerous cells in clinical applications.


Dielectrophoresis Cell separation Microfluidics Cancer Malignant cells 



This work has been supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology through Bio Tool R&D Project for Cell Research and by the internal research fund in Sogang University (200810027).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jaemin An
    • 1
  • Jangwon Lee
    • 1
  • Sang Ho Lee
    • 2
  • Jungyul Park
    • 3
  • Byungkyu Kim
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.School of Aerospace and Mechanical EngineeringKorea Aerospace UniversityGoyangKorea
  2. 2.School of Life Sciences and BiotechnologyKorea UniversitySeoulKorea
  3. 3.Mechanical EngineeringSogang UniversitySeoulKorea

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