Simulation and experimental demonstration of the in vitro gene delivery enhancement using electrostatic forces and electroporation (EP) microchips were conducted. Electroporation is a technique with which DNA molecules can be delivered into cells using electric field pulses. This study demonstrates that plasmid DNA can be attracted to the cell surfaces at the specific regions using an electrostatic force. Therefore, the DNA concentration on the cell surface is dramatically increased, which highly enhances the gene transfection efficiency compared to that without an attracting-electric field. The electrostatic force can be designed into specific regions, where the DNA plasmids are attracted to, to provide the region-targeting function. In this micro-device, the top electrode and the interdigitated electrodes provided the DNA attracting-electric field, and the interdigitated electrodes provided adequate electric fields for the electroporation process on the chip surface. Using the EP microchip, cells could be manipulated in situ without detachment if adherent cells were used for electroporation. Five different cells of two different types, primary cell and cell line, were successfully transfected under multi-pulse or single pulse electric field stimulation without applying an attracting-electric field. This study simulated and analyzed the electric field distributions at the DNA attracting and electroporation processes, and successfully demonstrated that the electrostatic force attracted DNA plasmids to specific regions and highly enhanced the gene delivery. In summary, this EP microchip should provide many potential applications for gene therapy.

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