February: rapid diagnostic tools | News & Features


New technology developed by the University of Bristol has the potential to accelerate the adoption and development of on-chip diagnostic techniques in parts of the world where rapid diagnostics are desperately needed to improve public health, mortality and safety. morbidity.

Microfluidic devices underpin lab-on-a-chip (LOC) technologies that are developed to provide the rapid point-of-care (POC) diagnostics needed for the rapid and effective treatment of many diseases.

Bristol researchers have developed a fast, reliable and cost effective alternative to produce the flexible lithographic molds used for the fabrication of microfluidic devices, published in the journal PLOS ONE. This discovery means that the fabrication of microfluidic devices (with channel dimensions ~ the width of a human hair) is now both accessible and affordable using simple, inexpensive 3D printing techniques and the open source resources developed. by the team.

“Previously, techniques for producing flexible lithographic scaffolds / molds (microfluidic channel models) were time consuming and extremely expensive, while other inexpensive alternatives were subject to unfavorable properties. This development could put LOC prototyping in the hands of researchers and clinicians who know the challenges best, especially those in resource-constrained environments, where rapid diagnostics can often have the greatest impact, ”said the author. study principal, Dr. Robert Hughes.

“This technique is so simple, fast and inexpensive that the devices can be manufactured using only everyday household or educational devices and at negligible cost (~ 0.05% of the material cost for a single microfluidic device) . This means that researchers and clinicians could use our technique and resources to help make rapid, rapid, and inexpensive medical diagnostic tools, with the minimum additional expertise or resources needed, ”said the co-author, Mr. Harry Felton.

“The simplicity and minimal cost of this technique, along with the playful click-and-connect approach developed, also make it suitable for hobbyists and for educational use, for teaching microfluidics and laboratory technology applications on puce, ”said co-author Andrea Diaz Gaxiola.

“We hope this will democratize microfluidics and lab-on-a-chip technology, help advance the development of point-of-care diagnostics, and inspire the next generation of researchers and clinicians in the field,” said Dr. Hughes.

The next step for the team is to identify potential collaborators in research and education to help demonstrate the impact this technology could have in both contexts by developing and supporting outreach activities and applications for them. on-chip diagnostic tests.

The research was the result of activities funded by the EPSRC, through the BristolBridge initiative, and first-rate funding from the Faculty of Engineering, as well as work carried out under the Digital Model Twinning project. -physics during prototyping, funded by EPSRC.


“Negligible Cost Microfluidic Device Fabrication Using 3D Printed Interconnect Channel Scaffolds” by Felton, H., Hughes, R. and Diaz-Gaxiola, A., in PLOS ONE

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