With one drop of blood and a new business card-sized point-of-care (POC) device, clinicians may soon be able to test for up to 50 blood analytes including proteins, DNA, or infectious agents, all at the same time. In validation studies the V-chip was capable of quantitatively analyzing common markers like insulin as well as multiple […]
With one drop of blood and a new business card-sized point-of-care (POC) device, clinicians may soon be able to test for up to 50 blood analytes including proteins, DNA, or infectious agents, all at the same time. In validation studies the V-chip was capable of quantitatively analyzing common markers like insulin as well as multiple gene expression profiles in breast cancer samples. The developers of the technology say the device is capable of simplifying analyses for personalized diagnostics. “We have created a new volumetric POC platform that allows quantitative, multiplexed and instrument-free protein measurement,” write the developers, led by Lidong Qin, Ph.D., from Methodist Hospital Research Institute (Houston), in a validation study published in Nature Communications in December. The microfluidics-based chip incorporates enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay technology that generates a volumetric increase in oxygen pressure visualized as bar charts, hence its name—the volumetric bar-chart chip (V-chip). The device is made of two 2 inch-by-3 inch pieces of glass with wells for hydrogen peroxide; up to 50 different antibodies to specific proteins, DNA or RNA fragments, or lipids of interest, and the enzyme catalase; the blood or urine sample; and a dye. The wells are initially isolated but are brought into contact through a shift in the glass plates creating a contiguous, zig-zagged space from one end of the V-chip to the other. As the analyte of interest binds to antibodies bound to the glass slide, catalase is activated and splits the hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen gas. The increased oxygen pressure pushes the dye up the column, with the distance the dye travels proportional to the amount of substrate present. The result is a visual bar chart displayed directly on the device—without the need for optical instruments (chemiluminescence or fluorescence), data processing, or plotting steps. The device’s anticipated affordability and simple user-interface might make it suitable for disease monitoring in resource-limited areas or in home blood testing. The researchers are in the early stages of commercializing the product. A prototype has been made for approximately $10 per card, although they expect the eventual manufacturing costs to be less. “We are in early-stage discussions with a number of companies who have interests in a wide variety of different applications for the chip. The strategy is to license the rights to commercialize the V-chip to a company or companies that can develop the chip into a final product,” Joanne Mitchell, Ph.D., director of technology transfer at the Methodist Hospital Research Institute, tells DTTR. Ultimately, the licensing party would submit the device for regulatory approval.
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