Miniature lab can diagnose disease in the field – by Nature Video



a plastic chip about the size of a credit card could one day diagnose disease in the remotest regions of the developing world so using just one microliter of whole blood we were able to get detection of HIV and we can do that in the field with less volume in about 15 minutes instead of several hours the device dubbed the EM chip by Samuel CNAs team at Columbia University is designed to work in places without access to advanced lab facilities there's no question I think that this type of test is really needed in the developing world and appreciate it but the question is can we actually develop the test to a point where it can be made available at a sufficiently low cost to keep costs low the M chip was designed with only three simple parts a plastic tube loaded with blood and chemical reagents a molded plastic card lined with micro channels and a syringe that pulls the blood and reagents through the device with a team of talented lab mates we took this exact format to Rwanda where we did testing on locally collected patient samples we did testing for both HIV and syphilis this was a tests that could be performed less than 20 minutes with only a finger prick of whole blood and we had performance that rivaled that of benchtop laboratory assays and the microfluidic design is very simple it's essentially a straight channel a linear channel that's been looped around in various ways and then at different parts of this microfluidic channel we would have different zones where we would pattern in a molecule that captures what you want to detect when whole blood flows into these loops tones antibodies against disease proteins become trapped and then what follows is that you would have washing reagents secondary antibodies delivered automatically to the detection areas and then at the end because you have the silver development reagent that develops into solid silver if you have the gold nanoparticles captured on the surface and so the thickness of the silver film that's formed reflects the amount of analyte that was originally in your sample and then we simply look at how much light pass through that silver film silver and gold may sound like expensive materials but the EM chip is actually quite cheap the material in making the cassette is just pennies in plastic and even the reagents because we use such low volumes only cost a few pennies but we think that after packaging it together it will probably cost a few dollars the next step is to take the EM chip into mass production see his team is working with kleros Diagnostics a company that he co-founded together with Vincent Linder the ultimate goal is to bring the manufacturing of VM chip directly to those who need it in the developing world we really tried to keep everything as simple as possible so the control alignment which is behind me is actually something which can be moved in any location on short notice and all the equipment inside of it is of the shelf equipment so we could possibly move the entire facility anywhere in the world on short notice and be able to produce the same quality of material per Thomas worldwide we are presented one way of integrating different micro fluidics technologies together that can be effective in a very resource limited setting the most remote regions of the world the M chip is described in the August issue of Nature Medicine you

9 comments

  1. They might someday be able to use a tiny computer in a plastic chip that kills any viruses in the blood, then tests for and identifies antibodies.

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