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'Lab-on-a-chip' infection test developed

Thursday December 3rd 2020

A newly developed chip that is a miniature version of the polymerase chain reaction can process results in minutes, British scientists have announced.

TriSilix, described as a “lab on a chip”, was developed by scientists at Imperial College London, using a series of methods that enable them to produce the chips in a standard laboratory, potentially cutting the costs and time they take to fabricate and potentially allowing them to be produced anywhere in the world.

So far, the team has used TriSilix, which is made from silicone, to diagnose a bacterial infection present in animals as well as a synthetic version of the genetic material from SARS-CoV-2, they say in Nature Communications.

Lead researcher Dr Firat Guder of Imperial's Department of Bioengineering said: “Rather than sending swabs to the lab or going to a clinic, the lab could come to you on a fingernail-sized chip. You would use the test much like how people with diabetes use blood sugar tests, by providing a sample and waiting for results - except this time it's for infectious diseases.”

It is hoped the system could be mounted onto handheld devices, which would enable people to test themselves and receive results at home for colds, flu, Covid-19 and recurrent infections such as UTIs.

Each chip contains a DNA sensor, temperature detector and heater to automate the testing process. A typical smartphone battery could power up to 35 tests on a single charge.

If validated on human samples, this new test could provide results outside a clinic, at home or on-the-go within minutes.

First author Dr Estefania Nunez-Bajo, from the Department of Bioengineering, said: “Monitoring infections at home could even help patients, with the help of their doctor, to personalise and tailor their antibiotic use to help reduce the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.”

Nunez-Bajo E, Collins ASP, Kasimatis m et al. Disposable Silicon-based All-in-One Micro-qPCR for Rapid On-Site Detection of Pathogens. Nature Communications 2 December 2020

[abstract]

Tags: Flu & Viruses | UK News

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