Cheap portable chip to run blood tests in a jiffy

IANS| Last Updated: May 08, 2014, 14:56 PM IST

Washington: Days are not far when doctors would run blood tests for you almost instantly on a piece of plastic about the size of a credit card!

Yes, these labs-on-a-chip would not only be quick - results are available in minutes - but also inexpensive and portable.

“They could be used miles from the nearest medical clinic to test for anything from HIV to diabetes. As powerful as they may be, they could be far better,” said Shiyan Hu, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Michigan Technological University.

“In a very short time, you could test for many conditions. This really would be an entire lab on a chip,” he added.

Generally, a lab-on-a-chip can run no more than a test or two. That is because the chips are designed manually.

“If the lab-on-a-chip were made using computer-aided design, you could run dozens of tests with a single drop of blood,” Hu said.

With Ph.D. student Chen Liao, Hu developed an inexpensive software that routes droplet of blood or other fluid through each test on the chip efficiently while avoiding any chip contamination.

“The materials are very cheap and the results are more accurate than a conventional lab’s,” the duo said.

Their work has been featured in the journal titled IEEE Transactions on Nanobiosciences.