Early in February, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine developed a cheap and reusable diagnostic “lab on a chip”. The chip can be manufactured for 1 cent per piece and is able to analyse cells for research and clinical applications. All you need is some microfluidics, electronics and inkjet printer.
This chip is composed of a clear silicone microfluidic chamber sitting on top of a reusable electronic strip, and the chamber is used to analyse cells from tissue or body fluid samples. Then a regular inkjet printer can be used to print the electronic strip onto a flexible sheet of polyester. A single chip can be produced in 20 minutes. The chip also allows analysing different cell types based on their electrical properties, instead of using fluorescent or magnetic labels that are typically required to track cells.
Such an inexpensive and useful technology has the potential to enhance diagnostic capabilities around the world, especially in developing countries, helping combat diseases more efficiently. Developing countries with low income usually have limited access to early diagnostics, resulting in higher disease incidence and lower survival rates. A technology enabling better access to cheaper diagnostics, especially when you consider the high costs of these equipment, will definitely make things better.
- 1. https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2017/02/scientists-develop-lab-on-a-chip-that-costs-1-cent-to-make.html