Biomicrofluidics means more than just biological stuff flowing at a micron-scale. The focus of this blog has probably been a bit too narrow and it could stand to expand slightly. A strict discussion of things that only fall under the umbrella of "bio + micro + fluidics" is too restricting. For example, it's more interesting to be able to consider the whole array of diagnostic applications that arise from applied physics and biology research, even if they're not taking a lab-on-a-chip or microfluidic approach.
To start things off, these crafty researchers at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School are using flow cytometry to detect cancerous cells flowing through blood. With the new method, which researchers used to detect multiple myeloma in mice, doctors could one day skip the messy blood samples and just shoot some light in your eye to find cancer.
Flow cytometry is not discussed very much in the public sphere of science and I think that's a shame. Bridging optics with biology and medicine, flow cytometry has been in use since the middle part of the 20th century, although finding a reliable account of the history is tough.
Cytometry is a field of study borne from scientists interested in research across disciplines of science. The engineer and inventor Wallace Coulter helped devise complicated measuring instruments and procedures for cytometry. Along the way, he convinced biologists (specifically hematologists) to use the tools to study blood and cancer in greater detail. The field blossomed and both biology and optics quickly expanded. From studies like the one above, it's easy to imagine that there is great potential for cytometry to help unravel biological complexity.