When remote regions with limited health facilities experience an epidemic, they need portable diagnostic equipment that functions outside the hospital. As demand for such equipment grows, EPFL researchers have developed a low-cost and portable microfluidic diagnostic device. It has been tested on Ebola and can be used to detect many other diseases.
Over the past several years, microfluidic devices have shown extraordinary potential in the area of diagnostics. They are composed of silicone rubber with minuscule channels the width of a hair. Microfluidic devices, and can rapidly detect a number of different biomarkers in very small quantities of blood.
At EPFL, a new type of microfluidic platform has come out of the Laboratory of Biological Network Characterization (LBNC), headed by Sebastian Maerkl. It is a portable device that runs on battery power and is completely self-sustained. It operates seamlessly with inexpensive microscopes and provides very high levels of accuracy and detection. The platform, which is described in a recent ACS Nano article, can quantify up to 16 different molecules - or biomarkers - in a tiny amount of blood (less than 0.005 milliliters). The biomarkers are usually enzymes, proteins, hormones or metabolites and the concentration of these molecules in the blood provides precise information on the patient's health condition.
Two detection readouts in one platform
The device is unique in that it is composed of both analog and digital detection mechanisms, while conventional devices hitherto only integrated one or the other. Digital detection is highly sensitive and can detect the presence of a single biomarker. However, it is less effective when the concentration of biomarkers is too high, due to signal saturation. Analog measurements, on the other hand, function best at higher biomarker concentrations. Using these two detection mechanisms simultaneously, the composition of a drop of blood can be thoroughly analyzed in a short amount of time. The analysis provides precious medical information: it could help doctors make an early diagnosis or determine the stage of a disease.
Initial testing has been successfully carried out on a sample containing anti-Ebola antibodies, which indicate the presence of the virus in both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients. The device could potentially work with a large number of other protein biomarkers and molecules.
No need to pre-treat blood samples
There is more good news. Researchers at EPFL found that they could load the blood sample directly onto the device and perform on-chip biomarker quantitation without requiring any sample pre-treatment. "For researchers, it is quite interesting to be able to avoid having to separate the blood," said Francesco Piraino, the article's lead author. Blood plasma separation requires centrifuges, large volume samples and a long processing time.
For diagnoses in resource-limited regions
Says Piraino: "The platform will lead the development of new kinds of tests to meet the increasing demand for on-site diagnostic testing. It will prove very useful for medical staff working in resource-limited regions." The device could, for example, be used to monitor endemic, epidemic, and pandemic disease outbreaks.
francesco piraino | EurekAlert!
Self-powered paper-based 'SPEDs' may lead to new medical-diagnostic tools
23.08.2017 | Purdue University
New technique to treating mitral valve diseases: First patient data
22.08.2017 | Universitätsspital Bern
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
23.08.2017 | Automotive Engineering
23.08.2017 | Life Sciences
23.08.2017 | Life Sciences