- A lab on a chip
test that combines many functions of a lab has been designed by a research
team from the University of California.
- The microfluidics
technology allows very small quantity of sample fluid, pico litres, to be utilized.
- Easy, faster and
reliable method of DNA biomarker and whole virus detection.
Diagnosing cancer early
will help in providing better care as cancer is the second leading cause of
death in the U.S. Genetic biomarkers
early detection as well as for treatment purposes like in immunotherapy.
Scientists are now working on miniature lab on chips that are small and which
require limited test volumes and are cost effective.
The research team from
Brigham Young University and from The University of California have designed
molecular detection tests based on a silicon platform. The laboratory on
a chip that these scientists have developed has many uses including:
- Testing smaller
volumes of blood. These tests require smaller volumes which are just a
fraction of what is required when testing is carried out using test tubes.
- Bulky equipment
is avoided: Routine diagnosis requires bulky equipment that is not
required when chip based diagnosis is utilized.
- Integration of
multiple functions: The chip integrates multiple functions
which make diagnosis fast and easier.
- Easy to
transport: The chip based lab is easy to transport and can be carried
Holger Schmidt of The University of
California said optofluidic chips were used that included both optical sensing
and fluid processing. A lot of work went into building the chips that had to be
optimized for the various functions like filtering of blood and preventing the
filter from clogging. The optical data that was received had to be analyzed
correctly to identify the excitation patterns.
‘Cancer biomarker detection made easy by lab on a chip test.’
The study researchers
hope to extend the chip to detect DNA biomarkers. Previous studies by the same
researchers identified single nucleic acid analysis that was used to detect
Ebola virus. The researchers state that they want to make the process faster
and to include protein biomarker detection, apart from detecting nucleic acids
and whole viruses.
The tests that are
conducted on the micro-chip are broad based and include a range of diagnosis
like molecular diagnosis, infectious diseases as well as in oncology. The tests
have been designed to be easy to perform that could make these tests popular
among students as well as the scientific community.
Cancer screening and
detection play an important role in the care provided to patients. Early detection
results in better care and better prognosis. There are many biomarkers for
cancer detection and for the prediction of the recurrence risk. This is
utilized by many doctors to provide personalized medicines. Certain types of
cancer may not require chemotherapy
after removal of the tumor while
certain others may require extensive chemotherapy for controlling the spread of
Such genetic analysis or
identification of DNA biomarkers to score cancer and to assess the modalities
of treatment takes a few weeks with a relatively high amount of blood collected
from the patient. The current technology of utilizing nano-technology for
miniaturizing processes will aid in faster analysis with lower quantity of
Breast cancer occurs in 3 out of 4 women in India,
but not all
forms of breast cancer are invasive nor are they caused by mutations in the
same genes. Many different genes can lead to the development of breast cancer
and identifying the right biomarker will aid in better planning of treatment.
Such cancer biomarkers are used routinely for risk analysis, especially among
close relatives of patients. A simple technique could promote better access to
such risk detection tests and create greater awareness about early detection.
Most people shun away
from cancer risk detection due to the long waiting period but a simple test
could encourage more people to take up these tests. The lab on a chip tests
that have been devised integrate a lot of laboratory functions to a single
microfluidic chip that requires only pico litres of fluid.
- Laboratory-on-a-chip technique simplifies detection of cancer DNA biomarkers - (http://phys.org/news/2016-12-laboratory-on-a-chip-technique-cancer-dna-biomarkers.html)