Traditional blood tests require a vial of blood that needs to be sent to a laboratory, where the new lab-on-a-chip device only requires a drop of blood and can generate results under a half hour  (Source:
New device cuts time and costs of a traditional blood test

University of Rhode Island researchers have developed a lab-on-a-chip device capable of offering blood test results in under 30 minutes.

Mohammad Faghri, study leader and a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Rhode Island, along with a team of researchers from the university, have created a portable device that has the potential to eliminate the need for laboratory use when seeking blood test results. 

Traditional blood tests taken today require a patient to fill a vial or more of blood that is then sent to a laboratory. It could take several days before results are received, making this process a bit lengthy and expensive. 

But now, the University of Rhode Island researchers have created a lab-on-a-chip device that only requires a drop of blood, and can deliver results in less than 30 minutes. In addition, the device is small and portable. It consists of a plastic polymer cartridge that is the size of a credit card, and a biosensor that is the size of a shoebox. 

"This development is a big step in point-of-care diagnostics, where testing can be performed in a clinic, doctor's office, or right at home," said Faghri. "No longer will patients have to wait anxiously for several days for their test results. They can have their blood tested when they walk into the doctor's office and the results will be ready before they leave." 

To do this, a drop of blood is set onto a plastic polymer cartridge. The cartridges were originally designed to detect C-reactive proteins (CRP) in the blood for risk assessment of peripheral vascular and cardiovascular diseases, but are now capable of detecting biomarkers for other diseases. The cartridge is then put into a biosensor, which contains a piezoelectric micro-pump and a miniature spectrometer. The blood then flows through channels that are about 500 microns wide until it reaches a detection site where a sensor can identify biomarkers of a disease while the blood reacts with preloaded reagents. 

In addition to being fast, small and portable, the lab-on-a-chip test is also inexpensive compared to other blood test methods. This test costs about $3,200 for the sensor, and $1.50 for each additional test to replace the cartridge and reagents. 

The next step is to work on a new generation of the lab-on-a-chip system, which will provide even more portability for reduced costs. Faghri sees the next generation as being a hand-held device, then eventually a smartphone application where the biosensor will be inserted into the cartridge and the processing power of the phone will be used to generate results.  

"We are already making progress on many of the steps toward the next generation of the system, and it won't be long before we can begin to commercialize it," said Faghri.  

According to the report, many patents are pending on the lab-on-a-chip device.  

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