Engineers from the Rutgers University have developed a breakthrough device that can significantly reduce the cost of sophisticated lab tests for medical disorders and diseases, such as HIV, Lyme disease and syphilis. The new device uses miniaturized channels and valves to replace 'benchtop' assays.
Dubbed as 'ELISA-on-a-chipa', a single device analyses 32 samples at once and can measure widely varying concentrations of as many as six proteins in a sample. Some laboratory tests require large samples of blood or other fluids and expensive chemicals that lab technicians manually mix in trays of tubes or plastic plates with cup-like depressions. The lab-on-chip device, which employs micro-fluidics technology, opens doors for new research because of its capability to perform complex analyses using 90% less sample fluid than needed in conventional tests.
Mehdi Ghodbane said, "The main advantage is cost. These assays are done in labs and clinics everywhere. A great deal of research has been hindered because in many cases one is not able to extract enough fluid."
Until now, animal research on central nervous system disorders, such as spinal cord injury and Parkinson's disease, has been limited because scientists were unable to extract sufficient cerebrospinal fluid to perform conventional assays. The authors said, "With our technology, researchers will be able to perform large-scale controlled studies with comparable accuracy to conventional assays."
This discovery could also lead to more comprehensive research on autoimmune joint disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis.
The results were published in Lab.