A new system developed by Fraunhofer research scientists can give complex test results in minutes.
The researchers have created a modular platform for in vitro diagnosis, which enables various types of bioanalysis - of blood and saliva for example - to be conducted in the doctor's surgery.
"Thanks to its modular design our IVD platform is so flexible that it can be used for all possible bioanalytical tasks," said Dr. Eva Ehrentreich-Forster from the Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering (IBMT) in Potsdam-Golm.
The core element of the mini-laboratory is a disposable cartridge made of plastic, which can be fitted with various types of sensor.
For an analysis the doctor fills the cartridge with reagents - binding agents which indicate the presence of certain substances such as antigens in the specimen material.
Various tests or assays are available for different types of analysis.
To perform an assay, the doctor only has to place the relevant substances in the cartridge and the test then takes place automatically.
"We have optimized the assays so that up to 500 assay reactions can be conducted in parallel in a single analysis step," explained Ehrentreich-Forster.
Even in the case of complex analyses the doctor obtains a result within about 30 minutes.
In fact, there is a new module on the reverse side of the cartridge, which also makes it possible to analyse the specimen material at DNA level.
Once the cartridge has been prepared, the doctor places it in the measurement system and one can read out the results with either optical or electrochemical biosensors.
The researchers have installed a readout window for both methods in the measurement system, which features a bypass through which the specimen is pumped.
The scientists are presenting the IVD platform at the Analytica trade show in Munich.