November 30, 2010
Universal Microfluidics Connector For Portable Labs

20 years from now microfluidic chips will plug into our smart phones (or maybe into our virtual reality goggles). When we need to do a fast genetic test (either in a bar with a potential mate or at the pound when choosing a dog to adopt) pluggable microfluidic chips will come in handy.

Biomedical engineers at UC Davis have developed a plug-in interface for the microfluidic chips that will form the basis of the next generation of compact medical devices. They hope that the "fit to flow" interface will become as ubiquitous as the USB interface for computer peripherals.

UC Davis filed a provisional patent on the invention Nov. 1. A paper describing the devices was published online Nov. 25 by the journal Lab on a Chip.

"We think there is a huge need for an interface to bridge microfluidics to electronic devices," said Tingrui Pan, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at UC Davis. Pan and graduate student Arnold Chen - invented the chip and co-authored the paper.

Or maybe a microfluidic chip will come in handy at a picnic where each person brings a dish. Does that casserole have a bad case of salmonella or another pathogen that risks trashing your intestines? A quick test of a sample could come in handy.

Or how about testing your own blood for micronutrient deficiencies or signs that you really are as behind in your sleep as you feel?

If you could do fast biological tests in the course of your day what would you test for?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 November 30 09:59 PM  Biotech Assay Tools

PacRim Jim said at December 1, 2010 12:57 AM:

I can only imagine how much human life will be improved by real-time monitoring of key biomarkers.
At the end of day, one's computer will use BlueTooth to automatically download and analyze the day's readings.
If there is a significant divergence of a biomarker, the software will notify the subject.
Properly trained users should be able to avoid degenerative disease for much longer.
Accurate transdermal measurement of biomarkers will be difficult, however.

bbartlog said at December 1, 2010 12:40 PM:

Fluids have more possibly varying characteristics than electricity (density, viscosity, surface tension, to say nothing of possible chemical incompatibilities if you wander further afield into acids, bases and solvents), so I'm skeptical of the possibility for a truly universal interface.

Randall Parker said at December 1, 2010 6:56 PM:

PacRim Jim,

I could imagine embedded sensors that warn you of, say, the poor quality of your lunch so that your smart phone can tell you that your free radicals and blood lipids or blood sugar has spiked to an unhealthy level.

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