Lab on a Chip

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
Traditionally, in order to view tiny biological structures such as viruses, they must first be removed from their natural habitats and frozen. While this certainly keeps them still for the microscope, it greatly limits what we can learn about them – it’s comparable to an ichthyologist only being able to study dead fish in a lab, instead of observing live ones in the ocean. Now, however, researchers at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute have devised a technique for observing live viruses in a liquid environment. It could have huge implications for the development of treatments for viral infections. Read More
Researchers at Pennsylvania State University have developed a new prototype cell-sorting device which uses sound waves to arrange cells far more efficiently than before. The advance in efficiency presents the possibility that future medical analytical devices could be scaled-down to a size much smaller than is currently the case. Read More
Lately we’re hearing more and more about tiny medical and environmental diagnostic devices, that can perform a variety of tests using very small fluid samples. Working with such small samples does present a challenge, however – how do you thoroughly mix tiny amounts of different fluids, or wrangle individual drops for analysis? According to a team of scientists from the University of Washington, the answer lies in the lotus leaf. Read More

A genetic testing mini-lab developed by researchers at the University of Alberta to set to begin commercial trials within a year. The Domino system provides a portable, cheap and powerful alternative to conventional laboratories that delivers a range of point-of-care diagnostic possibilities including tests for blood borne diseases such as malaria and those affecting farm animals. Read More

In an effort to provide a more accurate alternative to conventional cell culture and animal models, researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University have developed a microdevice that mimics the structure, physiology, and mechanics of the human intestine. The so-called “gut-on-a-chip” could help provide new insights into intestinal disorders and be used to evaluate the safety and efficacy of potential treatments. Read More
While just about everyone is familiar with home pregnancy testing kits, what many of us may not realize is that a (sort of) equivalent product exists for men - home sperm count kits. These kits, however, will simply tell users if their sperm count is above or below a standard value. While a yes or no answer like that might suffice for the pregnancy kits, a little more information would definitely help a man who suspects he might be infertile. Loes Segerink, a PhD student from The Netherlands' University of Twente, hopes to change that with this prototype lab-on-a-chip device. Segerink's chip counts exactly how many sperm are present in a sample of ejaculate, and can even differentiate between the good swimmers and the duds. Read More
Researchers at the University of Michigan have succeeded in developing a chip used to conduct experiments on fluids which is driven by sound rather than electromechanical valves. This approach to controlling "lab-on-a-chip" devices could be a big step forward in reducing costs and complexity in areas ranging from chemical analysis to environmental monitoring, potentially leading to innovations like handheld devices you could sneeze onto to find out if you have the flu. Read More
October 31, 2007 Researchers in Singapore have successfully developed a miniaturized device that can be used to detect the highly pathogenic avian flu (H5N1) virus. If successfully commercialized, this device could be deployed in affected regions to provide early detection and circumvent the occurrence of an avian flu epidemic. Read More
October 1, 2007 A Californian based company has produced the world’s first disposable photonic lab-on-a-chip solution for next-generation water and food analysis, chemical and biological agent detection, and point-of-care diagnostics. The PhotonicLab Platform from Bioident Technology Inc. enables rapid in-vitro diagnostics, chemical and biological threat detection, and environmental testing without the need for off-site lab analysis. This offers greater mobility and sensitivity compared to existing biological and chemical assays and delivers a cost-effective disposable lab-on-a-chip solution by eliminating the need for complex and expensive readout systems. Read More