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The main developments of microfluidic systems for genetic analyses are aimed at the miniaturization of all biological operations from sampling to detection, an operation named by Manz Micro Total Analysis System (μTAS) 20 years ago.1  Since then, intense efforts have been made to integrate on a single device all the steps of sample analysis. This integration proved highly complex and has hindered the development of hands-off systems with sample-in answer-out capabilities, apart from a handful of examples in the literature and only one commercially available device (Cepheid).2–4 

Nevertheless, these efforts have not been wasted since we have witnessed successful uses of microfluidic systems for certain dedicated tasks, either as a preparative step or as a detection mean, with major improvements over conventional molecular biology. Some of these devices have now become part of the standard equipment of biology labs, replacing old technologies.

We will review here the state-of-the-art of microfluidic systems for genetic analyses and analyze their ability to reproduce biological operations and even go beyond, by achieving superior performances either in speed, consumption or efficiency, especially in the case of single cell analysis.

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