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Lab on a chip developed at University of Alberta for cheap, portable medical tests
Date:1/29/2008

i also making it useful for testing water quality.

From a public health point of view, it would be wonderful during an epidemic to be able to do a quick test on a patient when they walk into an emergency room and be able to say, you have SARS, you need to go into that (isolation) room immediately.

A family doctor might determine a persons genetic predisposition to an illness during an office visit and advise the patient on preventative lifestyle changes.

The work that led to the existing $1,000 system is part of a larger engineering collaboration in which electrical engineers Drs. Chris Backhouse, Duncan Elliot and Jim McMullin from the U of A, along with Dr. Paul Charette at the Universite de Sherbrooke (Quebec), are combining skills to put much of the functionality of a medical diagnostic lab on a far smaller instrument. This requires a combination of photonics, nano-biotechnology, electronics, microfabrication and programming.

Since the journal article was submitted to the Royal Society of Chemistry, the U of A researchers have already made the processor and unit smaller and have brought the cost of building it down to about $100 Cdn. In addition, these systems are also portable and even faster (they take only minutes).

Backhouse, Elliott and McMullin are now demonstrating prototypes of a USB key-like system that may ultimately be as inexpensive as standard USB memory keys that are in common use only tens of dollars.

You (would) put on your sample, plug it into a computer and have the answer in 15 minutes.

Along with other researchers at the U of A and in local health-care agencies, these researchers are applying their instruments to a wide range of applications, from public health to cancer treatment, while working with Canada's industry leaders in the field, with partners such as DALSA, Micralyne and iLOC.


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Contact: Julia Necheff
julia.necheff@ualberta.ca
780-492-0437
University of Alberta
Source:Eurekalert

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