Multifunctional envelope-type nanodevices (MENDs) are very promising non-viral gene delivery vectors because they are biocompatible and enable programmed packaging of various functional elements into an individual nanostructured liposome. Conventionally MENDs have been fabricated by complicated, labor-intensive, time-consuming bulk batch methods. To avoid these problems in MEND fabrication, we adopted a microfluidic chip with a chaotic mixer array on the floor of its reaction channel. The array was composed of 69 cycles of the staggered chaotic mixer with bas-relief structures. Although the reaction channel had very large Péclet numbers (>105) favorable for laminar flows, its chaotic mixer array led to very small mixing lengths (<1.5 cm) and that allowed homogeneous mixing of MEND precursors in a short time. Using the microfluidic chip, we fabricated a double-lamellar MEND (D-MEND) composed of a condensed plasmid DNA core and a lipid bilayer membrane envelope as well as the D-MEND modified with trans-membrane peptide octaarginine. Our lab-on-a-chip approach was much simpler, faster, and more convenient for fabricating the MENDs, as compared with the conventional bulk batch approaches. Further, the physical properties of the on-chip-fabricated MENDs were comparable to or better than those of the bulk batch-fabricated MENDs. Our fabrication strategy using microfluidic chips with short mixing length reaction channels may provide practical ways for constructing more elegant liposome-based non-viral vectors that can effectively penetrate all membranes in cells and lead to high gene transfection efficiency.
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