New lab-on-chip device cut health test costs

New lab-on-chip device to cut health test costs

10:05 AM, 15th September 2015
New lab-on-chip device to cut health test costs
The Rutgers lab-on-a chip is three inches long and an inch wide - the size of a glass microscope slide.

NEW BRUNSWICK, US: Scientists have developed a breakthrough lab-on-chip device that can substantially reduce the cost of sophisticated lab tests for medical disorders and diseases such as HIV, Lyme disease and syphilis.

The new device uses miniaturised channels and valves to replace “benchtop” assays - tests that 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 main advantage is cost - these assays are done in labs and clinics everywhere,” said Mehdi Ghodbane, who earned his doctorate in biomedical engineering at Rutgers University and now works in biopharmaceutical research and development at GlaxoSmithKline.

Ghodbane and six Rutgers researchers recently published their results in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s journal, Lab on a Chip.

The lab-on-chip device, which employs microfluidics technology, along with making tests more affordable for patients and researchers, opens doors for new research because of its capability to perform complex analyses using 90 per cent less sample fluid than needed in conventional tests.

“A great deal of research has been hindered because in many cases one is not able to extract enough fluid,” said Ghodbane.

The breakthrough also requires one-tenth of the chemicals used in a conventional multiplex immunoassay, which can cost as much as $1500.

“The results are as sensitive and accurate as the standard bench-top assay,” said Martin Yarmush, professor of biomedical engineering at Rutgers University.

Until now, animal research on central nervous system disorders, such as spinal cord injury and Parkinson’s disease, has been limited because researchers could not extract sufficient cerebrospinal fluid to perform conventional assays.

“With our technology, researchers will be able to perform large-scale controlled studies with comparable accuracy to conventional assays,” Yarmush said.

The researchers combined several capabilities for the first time in the device they have dubbed “ELISA-on-a-chip” (for enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay).

A single device analyses 32 samples at once and can measure widely varying concentrations of as many as six proteins in a sample.

The researchers are exploring the commercial potential of their technology.

Other members of the research team are Elizabeth Stucky, a doctoral student in the department of chemical and biochemical engineering, and assistant research professor Tim Maguire, associate research professor Rene Schloss, professor David Shreiber and associate professor Jeffrey Zahn, all in the department of biomedical engineering.

The National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the New Jersey Commission on Brain Injury Research and Corning Inc provided funding for the research.

© Rutgers University News

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