August 2, 2011
Lab Work on a Chip
(Ivanhoe Newswire) "“ The innovative development of the lab-on-a-chip is allowing scientists to perform complex laboratory assays with such simplicity that these tests can be carried out in the most remote regions of the world.
Samuel K. Sia, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Columbia Engineering, developed the innovative strategy for an integrated microfluidic-based diagnostic device.
Sia and his team performed testing in Rwanda over the last four years in partnership with Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health and three local non-government organizations in Rwanda, targeting hundreds of patients. His device, known as mChip (mobile microfluidic chip), requires only a tiny finger prick of blood, effective even for a newborn, and gives"”in less than 15 minutes"”quantitative objective results that are not subject to user interpretation. This new technology significantly reduces the time between testing patients and treating them, providing medical workers in the field results that are much easier to read at a much lower cost. New low-cost diagnostics like the mChip could revolutionize medical care around the world.
"We have engineered a disposable credit card-sized device that can produce blood-based diagnostic results in minutes," Sia was quoted as saying. "The idea is to make a large class of diagnostic tests accessible to patients in any setting in the world, rather than forcing them to go to a clinic to draw blood and then wait days for their results."
Sia hopes to use the mChip to help pregnant women in Rwanda who, while they may be suffering from AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases, cannot be diagnosed with any certainty because they live too far away from a clinic or hospital with a lab. "Diagnosis of infectious diseases is very important in the developing world," Sia explained. "When you're in these villages, you may have the drugs for many STDs, but you don't know who to give treatments to, so the challenge really comes down to diagnostics." A version of the mChip that tests for prostate cancer has also been developed by Claros Diagnostics and was approved in 2010 for use in Europe.
SOURCE: Nature Medicine, published online July 31, 2011