April 12, 2006

New Machine to Simplify Blood Test Using Lab-on-a-chip

(RedOrbit) Research funded by the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) has developed a cell phone-sized blood-count machine requiring less blood than a mosquito bite that will make blood tests easier for many patients.

The scientists come from California Institute of Technology, the University of California, Los Angeles, and IRIS International, Inc.

Dr. Yu-Chong Tai, an investigator on NSBRI's Technology Development Team says, "analysis of blood composition is how doctors test for infections and deficiencies in the immune system, monitor health and make medical diagnoses."

Such technology would be of use to astronauts who must draw blood samples while in orbit for analysis after their return.

Another way this technology could be applied is in neonatal care since large blood draws are not possible with infants.

The blood-count machine will separate and identify components of blood such as red and white blood cells, lipids, proteins or oxygen.

This device is pioneering new technology by using two separate-yet-parallel micro-Coulter counters to calculate white blood cells and red blood cells independently.

In the future, Tai and his colleagues plan to expand the technology to assess a variety of molecules in addition to blood, add the ability to measure fluids like plasma and urine, or incorporate cell surface marker and DNA analysis.

By Karen Ventii of RedOrbit from Wire reports

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