Research highlight

Diagnostics: Biomarker bar graphs on the chip

Nature Communications

December 19, 2012

A cheap and easy-to-use microfluidic device for the measurement of disease biomarkers is reported in Nature Communications this week. The so-called V-Chip can measure and display the concentration of a biomarker in a biological sample quickly and without the relying on optical or electronic components.

Quantitative measurement of disease biomarkers remains a critical yet unmet need in the development of portable diagnostic devices. Most systems developed so far rely on electronic sensors or optical systems, which are complicated and costly. In their V-Chip device, Lidong Qin and colleagues link the detection of biomarkers with the enzymatic production of oxygen. The gas then pushes red ink along tiny channels on the device, with distances being proportional to the amount of biomarker in the sample. The team presents various chip designs that allow the measurement of up to 50 samples in parallel and that display quantitative results as intuitive ink bar graphs directly on the device.

Due to its visual nature and simplicity, the method could find application for a range of diagnostic purposes.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms2292

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