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article imageCheap lab-on-a-chip may boost blood testing in remote areas

Diagnosing in remote settings, anywhere in the world, might soon be easier and cheaper, with an accurate lab-on-a-chip (LOC) that integrates several blood tests and costs about $1, developed at Columbia Engineering, an article in Nature Medicine reported.
According to the article abstract and Columbia Engineering's written statement:
Biomedical engineer Samuel K. Sia was lead developer of this portable microfluidic diagnostic LOC device that inexpensively integrates several complex laboratory tests on a disposible credit card-sized chip, and functions by manipulating extremely small fluid samples and nanoparticles.
The mChip, or mobile microfluidic chip, produces qualitative results in minutes that do not require user interpretation, through up to ten detection zones, and requires only a pinprick of blood for each test.
Sia hopes mChip will save lives by facilitating accessible, cost-effective diagnostic testing for HIV, sexually transmitted diseases and prostrate cancer in resource-limited regions worldwide.
Sia's team, Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and local non-government organizations tested the device in Rwanda for four years on hundreds of samples and found the results nearly 100 percent accurate.
Reducing the time between testing and treating patients could revolutionize medical care in those areas, according to the researchers.
Funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Wallace Coulter Foundation supported the mChip project, in collaboration with Claros Diagnostics Inc., a start-up co-founded by Sia in 2004 and recently recognized by MIT's Technology Review as one of the world's most innovative companies.
In related news:
The journal Nature's Insight supplement devoted an issue to LOC technology, a field many teams of biomedical engineers have been advancing during the last decade.
NASA reported a miniature biological laboratory was tested successfully aboard the International Space Station in December 2007.
In January 2011, Purdue announced an innovation that makes microfluidic testing less expensive by using paper, instead of glass or plastic, a project published in the journal Lab on a Chip.
Also, UC Berkeley and Harvard recently reported about new LOC projects that aim to make this portable diagnostic technology more affordable.
More about lab on a chip, mChip, Blood test, Blood testing, Blood tests
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