Tuesday, February 7, 2017
Scientists develop 'lab on a chip' that costs 1 cent to make.
Scientists develop 'lab on a chip' that costs 1 cent to make. Microfluidics, electronics and inkjet technology underlie a newly developed all-in-one biochip that can analyze cells for research and clinical applications. Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have developed a way to produce a cheap and reusable diagnostic "lab on a chip" with the help of an ordinary inkjet printer.A study describing the technology will be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The inexpensive lab-on-a-chip technology has the potential to enhance diagnostic capabilities around the world, especially in developing countries. Where due to inferior access to early diagnostics, the survival rate of breast cancer patients is only 40% in low-income nations which is half the rate of such patients in developed nations. There are other diseases plaguing these nations such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV, which also have high incidence and bad patient outcomes in developing countries. A better and easy access to cheap diagnostics could help turn this around, especially as most such equipment costs thousands of dollars. The chip is designed as a multifunctional platform, one of its applications is that it allows users to analyze different cell types without using fluorescent or magnetic labels that are typically required to track cells. The chip separates cells based on their intrinsic electrical properties: When an electric potential is applied across the inkjet-printed strip, cells loaded into the microfluidic chamber get pulled in different directions depending on their "polarizability" in a process called dielectrophoresis. This label-free method to analyze cells greatly improves precision and cuts lengthy labeling processes.