Cell nucleus as endogenous biological micropump

Qing Gao, Weihong Wang, Xiaogang Li, Yuchao Li, Pietro Ferraro, Xingyuan Jiao, Xiaoshuai Liu, Yao Zhang, Baojun Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Micropumps can generate directional microflows in blood vessels or bio-capillaries for targeted transport of nanoparticles and cells in vivo, which is highly significant for biomedical applications from active drug delivery to precision clinical therapy. Meanwhile, they have been extensively used in the biosensing fields with their unique features of autonomous motion, easy surface functionalization, dynamic capture and effective isolation of analytes in complex biological media. However, synthetic devices for actuating microflows, including pumps and motors, generally exhibit poor or limited biocompatibility with living organisms as a result of the invasive implantation of exogenous materials into blood vessels. Here we demonstrate a method of constructing endogenous micropumps by extracting nuclei from red blood cells, thus making them intrinsically and completely biocompatible. The nuclei are extracted and then driven by a scanning optical tweezing system. By a precise actuation of the microflows, nanoparticles and cells are navigated to target destinations, and the transport velocity and direction is controlled by the multifunctional dynamics of the micropumps. With the targeted transport of functionalized micro/nanoparticles followed by a dynamic mixing in microliter blood samples, the micropumps provide considerable promises to enhance the target binding efficiency and improve the sensitivity and speed of biological assays in vivo. Furthermore, multiplexing by simultaneously driving an array of multiple nuclei is demonstrated, thus confirming that the micropumps could provide a bio-friendly high-throughput in vivo platform for the treatment of blood diseases, microenvironment monitoring, and biomedical analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113166
JournalBiosensors and Bioelectronics
Publication statusPublished - Jun 15 2021


  • Active delivery
  • Cell nucleus
  • Endogenous micropumps
  • Optical tweezers
  • Optofluidic transport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Electrochemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Cell nucleus as endogenous biological micropump'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this