Skip to main content
Log in

Deformability study of breast cancer cells using microfluidics

  • Published:
Biomedical Microdevices Aims and scope Submit manuscript


Cell deformability is an important biomarker which can be used to distinguish between healthy and diseased cells. In this study, microfluidics is used to probe the biorheological behaviour of breast cancer cells in an attempt to develop a method to distinguish between non-malignant and malignant cells. A microfabricated fluidic channel design consisting of a straight channel and two reservoirs was used to study the biorheological behaviour of benign breast epithelial cells (MCF-10A) and non-metastatic tumor breast cells (MCF-7). Quantitative parameters such as entry time (time taken for the cell to squeeze into the microchannel) and transit velocity (speed of the cell flowing through the microchannel) were defined and measured from these studies. Our results demonstrated that a simple microfluidic device can be used to distinguish the difference in stiffness between benign and cancerous breast cells. This work lays the foundation for the development of potential microfluidic devices which can subsequently be used in the detection of cancer cells.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11
Fig. 12

Similar content being viewed by others


Download references


The support provided by the Singapore–MIT Alliance and the Global Enterprise for Micro Mechanics and Molecular Medicine (GEM4) is gratefully acknowledged.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to C. T. Lim.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.


Entry of a single MCF-10A cell into a 10 by 10 μm microchannel (movie) (Movie 2.98 MB)


Entry of a single MCF-7 cell into a 10 by 10 μm microchannel (movie) (Movie 718 KB)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Hou, H.W., Li, Q.S., Lee, G.Y.H. et al. Deformability study of breast cancer cells using microfluidics. Biomed Microdevices 11, 557–564 (2009).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: