Blood chip diagnoses diseases within minutes

Last Updated: Sun, Mar 20, 2011 08:50 hrs

Washington, March 20 (IANS) A self-powered, low-cost chip can test blood samples and diagnose diseases like tuberculosis and HIV within minutes, scientists say.

The device has been developed by researchers from the University of California, Berkeley (UCB), Dublin City University and Universidad de Valparaiso (Chile). It is able to process whole blood samples without the use of external tubing and extra components.

The researchers have dubbed the device SIMBAS, or Self-powered Integrated Microfluidic Blood Analysis System, the journal Lab on a Chip reports.

'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, post-doctoral researcher in bioengineering at UCB, who led the study.

'In our device, there are no external connections or tubing required, so this can truly become a point-of-care system,' he added, according to a statement from the university.

Dimov works in the lab of the study's principal investigator, Luke Lee, professor of bioengineering and co-director of the Berkeley Sensor and Actuator Centre at the university.

'This is a very important development for global healthcare diagnostics,' said Lee. 'Field workers would be able to use this device to detect diseases such as HIV or tuberculosis in a matter of minutes.'

'The fact that we reduced the complexity of the biochip and used plastic components makes it much easier to manufacture in high volume at low cost,' he added.