Paper Microchip' Can Diagnose HIV Anywhere - Dream Health

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Wednesday 16 September 2015

Paper Microchip' Can Diagnose HIV Anywhere


Diagnostic Tools – Detecting Bio-agents in Blood

Biomedical engineers from Florida Atlantic University have incorporated cellulose paper together with flexible polyester films that could be utilised as diagnostic tools in detecting bio-agents in blood – a bio sensing platform which combines a smartphone and a paper microchip that could transform the diagnosis of a number of diseases inclusive of HIV in remote areas.

All that is needed in performing the diagnosis using the platform is a drop of blood from the fingertip of a patient. Earlier attempts in creating paper diagnostic material had been restricted due to the fact that they needed complex labelling to amplify the signal which was not easy to create and organize.

Researchers have explained how they have overcome these challenges in a recent research with the development of a bio-sensing platform. Three individual materials had been developed in sensing bio-agents and the use of lensless shadow imaging technology which means no signal amplification was necessary. The research had been published in Nature Scientific Reports.

The platform would also provide an explanation for remote healthcare providers for both the developed as well as developing world, since the lightweight, thin as well as the flexible substance can be fabricated and operated without much costly infrastructure or skilled workers.

Microchips – Safely & Easily Discarded

Moreover the microchips can also be safely and easily discarded by burning. The accompanying smartphone app enables diseases to be diagnosed by using images of the microchips from any location in the world. Co-author of the study, Waseem Asghar has stated that `there is a dire need for robust, portable, disposable and inexpensive bio-sensing platforms for clinical care, especially in developing countries having limited resources’.

Hadi Shafiee another co-first author had also commented saying that `their paper microchip technologies can potentially have significant impact on infectious diseases management in low as well as middle-income countries where there is limited laboratory infrastructure’.

Treatment monitoring at the point-of-care (POC) settings is of great interest in clinical application for disease diagnosis. Accurate and rapid POC diagnostic evaluates tend to play an import role in the developing countries with limited trained personnel together with financial support, besides limited laboratory infrastructure.

Technical Challenges in Different Detection Modalities

However, present diagnostic test generally need long test time together with sophisticated setup and expensive reagents which are not compatible with resource strained settings. Though paper and flexible material based platform technologies tend to offer a choice on approaches in the development of POC diagnostic test for comprehensive application in medicine, they do have technical challenges incorporating in different detection modalities.

By incorporating these different detection modalities, selective and accurate captureas well as detection of various bio-targets are presented, which include viruses, bacteria, and cells from finger-prick volume which is equivalent of multiple biological specimens like whole blood, plasma and peritoneal dialysis effluent together with clinically relevant detection and sensitivity.

Though researchers have limited the initial trials of the platform to testing of HIV, E. Coli and Staphylococcus aureus, which could cause food poisoning, they are assertive that it could be adjusted and personalised for the purpose of detecting other pathogens and bio-targets. Besides this, the platform also has the capabilities of being used as more than a diagnosis tool but alternative applications like drug development, food safety, veterinary medicine and environmental monitoring,

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