March 22, 2011
Biochip Does Blood Sample Analysis

The field of microfluidics holds the promise of orders of magnitude cheaper biological assays of blood and other samples. Plus, it will enable fast testing without sending off to a lab. Well, an international group of researchers has developed an autonomous lab-on-a-chip.

BERKELEY — A major milestone in microfluidics could soon lead to stand-alone, self-powered chips that can diagnose diseases within minutes. The device, developed by an international team of researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, Dublin City University in Ireland and Universidad de Valparaíso Chile, is able to process whole blood samples without the use of external tubing and extra components.

The researchers have dubbed the device SIMBAS, which stands for Self-powered Integrated Microfluidic Blood Analysis System. SIMBAS appeared as the cover story March 7 in the peer-reviewed journal Lab on a Chip.

“The dream of a true lab-on-a-chip has been around for a while, but most systems developed thus far have not been truly autonomous,” said Ivan Dimov, UC Berkeley post-doctoral researcher in bioengineering and co-lead author of the study. “By the time you add tubing and sample prep setup components required to make previous chips function, they lose their characteristic of being small, portable and cheap. In our device, there are no external connections or tubing required, so this can truly become a point-of-care system.”

The FDA and AMA line up to restrict your freedom to get personal genetic testing. Yet the technological trends are running very rapidly toward the development of very powerful hand-held medical testing devices. You can already buy home triglycerides and cholesterol test kits. I do not want to see governments restrict their availability. Rather, we should some day be able to each individually check a very large list of chemicals in our blood by pulling out a little medical testing lab from a pants pocket.

Instant real-time medical testing any time of the day anywhere you are can revolutionize medicine and medical research. The number of people generating their own personal medical records can explode with cheap lab-on-a-chip devices. These gadgets will some day take your medical test results, send them to a medical expert system web server, and report back to you about whether you have any looming or current problems.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2011 March 22 12:11 AM  Biotech Assay Tools

David A. Young said at March 22, 2011 8:56 AM:

If we can keep the regulators at bay, we're in the Era of Peak Medical Costs.

Salman Khan said at March 23, 2011 1:17 PM:

Hope this innovation will bring a new era in the field of medical science if it gets success.

PacRim Jim said at March 24, 2011 2:37 AM:

Soon there will be numerous software start-ups that will develop programs for personalized analysis of genomes, epigenomes, etc.
Things are accelerating, so if you have any desire to live more than a hundred healthy years, hang on for another few decades.

Nonapod said at March 24, 2011 11:11 AM:

Can't wait for the day when such chips come standard with all smart devices. Imagine being able to diagnose yourself with a smartphone.

Anonymous said at March 24, 2011 3:11 PM:

Quest Diagnostics and the AMA will have this banned in 10 seconds. No one is allowed to be healthy unless a doctor gets a great big check.

If we had this government back in 1900, the buggy whip manufacturers would have outlawed the automobile. It's a crime what they get away with for the entrenched interests.

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