The Engineer is reporting about an Imperial College London spin-out Molecular Vision Ltd., a firm that has developed a hand-held device based on microfluidic chips equipped with organic-semiconductor light sources and photodetectors to provide “lab-quality diagnostic tests in a miniaturised, easy-to-use, disposable format,” according to the company.
Here’s what The Engineer says about the technology:
The patented system combines microfluidic lab-on-a-chip technology with light-emitting polymers (LEPs) and photodetectors to carry out a battery of medical tests simultaneously. The chip incorporates up to 10 channels, allowing the level of multiple analytes to be measured simultaneously alongside internal controls and reference samples. It does this by measuring absorbance, fluorescence, chemiluminescence and phosphorescence.
Ian Campbell, Molecular Vision’s chief executive, said: ‘Essentially we have an organic polymer that can be deposited on both the top and bottom sides of the microfluidics. The top polymer acts as a light-emitting diode, so when a current in the slide passes through the polymer it lights up. The polymer at the bottom acts as a photon receiver and translates the signal from light to amps. The amount of signal it receives is proportional to the amount of active material in the sample, which can then be displayed on a readout.’
Results are output within minutes and can be displayed on a LCD screen on the device, or via a PDA, mobile phone or home computer. Each could also be used to power the device, which can also run on a small internal ‘button’ battery.
The sample body fluid will be mixed with reagents through the microfluidic network. Sample pre-treatment, chemical reactions, analytical separations and detection are all carried out on a single chip. The system is low risk as it uses established assay technology and reagents.