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US researchers develop lab-on-a-chip for blood tests

Researchers at the University of Rhode Island, US, have developed a new device which uses just a pinprick of blood to provide results of a blood test in less than 30 minutes.

With the lab-on-a-chip technology, a drop of blood is placed on a polymer cartridge and is inserted into a biosensor containing a miniature spectrometer and piezoelectric micro-pump.

The blood moves through the cartridge in tiny channels 500 microns wide and reaches a detection site, where it reacts with preloaded reagents, allowing the sensor to detect certain biomarkers of disease.

Researchers have developed cartridges for the detection of C-reactive proteins (CRP) in the blood – which is used to assess risk of cardiovascular and peripheral vascular diseases, and are working on develop cartridges to detect Alzheimer’s disease.

According to researchers, the new system is smaller, portable, requires smaller blood sample and is less expensive than the currently used systems.

Lead researcher of the project Mohammad Faghri said this development is a big step in point-of-care diagnostics, where testing can be performed in a clinic, in a doctor’s office, or right at home.