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Lab on a Chip

There is not a lot known about how exactly tumor cells travel to different parts of the body to form secondary cancers, a process known as metastasis. But now engineers from John Hopkins University have created a device that is offering an entirely new perspective, allowing researchers an up-close look at the cells as they spread and potentially unearthing new methods of treatment. Read More
Unfortunately for asthma sufferers and those looking to develop new treatments to help them, animal models traditionally used to test potential new drugs don't always mimic human responses. Joining lungs and guts, scientists at Harvard's Wyss Institute have now developed a human airway muscle-on-a-chip that could help in the search for new treatments for asthma. The device accurately mimics the way smooth muscle contracts in the human airway, both under normal circumstances and when exposed to asthma triggers. Read More
With their ability to guide and analyze tiny quantities of liquid, microfluidic "lab-on-chip" devices have found use in everything from seawater desalination to explosives detection to the viewing of viruses. Each time a new type of device is created, however, it must be built from scratch. This can be time-consuming and costly, as the fabrication of multiple prototypes is a traditional part of the trial-and-error development process. Now, however, building them may be as simple as mixing and matching prefabricated Lego-like modules. Read More
The search for more efficient tests of pharmaceuticals without animal models is taking a stride forward, with a new technology being developed in the US called Organs-on-Chips. The new miniature platform and software, which mimic the mechanical and molecular characteristics of human organs, were developed by bioengineers from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. Read More
We've already heard about a biosensor developed in Brazil for detecting pesticide content in food. Now at CE Week, a Seoul-based company called BioSensor Laboratories has presented Penguin, a home-use sensor that detects the presence of antibiotics in animal products. Read More
A European project coordinated by Ikerlan and CIC microGUNE is developing a James Bond-style automated laboratory called "LABoratory skin patches and smart cards based ON FOILs and compatible with a smartphone" (LABONFOIL). Using lab-on-a-chip technology and smart patches to detect a wide variety of substances and diagnose diseases, the goal of the project is to create a cheap, portable laboratory that can interact with smart devices. Read More
Whether you're growing wine grapes or mixing cement, there are some situations in which it's vitally important to monitor moisture content. Normally water sensors are used, although these can be both large and expensive. Now, however, a team from Cornell University has created a water-sensing silicon chip that's not only tiny, but is also reportedly "a hundred times more sensitive than current devices." What's more, the chips might be possible to mass-produce for just $5 a pop. Read More
Arguably the world’s most famous painting, da Vinci's Mona Lisa has now been copied onto the world’s smallest canvas at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Associate Professor Jennifer Curtis' "Mini Lisa" is one-third the width of a human hair, with details as small as one-eighth of a micron. Mini Lisa demonstrates the flexibility of a new nanolithography technique that can vary the surface concentration of molecules on very small portions of a substrate. Read More
The spleen’s job is to filter our blood. When people are critically ill or have received traumatic injuries, however, the spleen alone is sometimes not able to remove enough of the pathogens on its own – potentially-fatal sepsis is the result. In order to help avert such an outcome in those situations, scientists from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University are developing a device known as the spleen-on-a-chip. Read More
Ordinarily, when medical clinicians are conducting blood tests, it’s a somewhat elaborate affair. A full vial of blood must be drawn, individual portions of which are then loaded into large, expensive machines such as mass spectrometers. The results are usually quite accurate, but they’re not instantaneous, and require the services of trained personnel in a well-equipped lab. That may be about to change, however. Scientists from Houston’s Methodist Hospital Research Institute and MD Anderson Cancer Center have created a credit card-sized gadget, that can instantly check a single drop of blood for up to 50 different substances – and it costs about US$10. Read More