A lab on a chip
Many laboratory blood tests take several days to process. A group of Harvard University researchers has developed a device, the mChip, that produces accurate test results from a single drop of human blood in about 10 minutes. After blood is injected into the credit-card-size cartridge, it interacts with antibodies housed in hairline channels. The cartridge is then placed in a portable device that analyzes the results and displays them on a digital screen. One mChip can test for up to 10 disease biomarkers, including those for hepatitis C and HIV. Claros Diagnostics, co-founded by Vincent Linder and Samuel Sia, two of the mChip's inventors, has received approval to market a version of the device for prostate cancer screening in Europe. Next year, Claros, based in Woburn, Massachusetts, plans to apply for FDA approval for the mChip in the United States. It is also fine-tuning the technology for infectious-disease testing in developing countries.
"The majority of the technology is in chemistry built into the card—it needs no heat, no electricity, no software."
—Michael J. Magliochetti, president and CEO, Claros Diagnostics
Pictured here is an mChip designed to test for indicators of prostate problems. We injected the cartridge with a dye to simulate how blood flows through a channel, interacting with antibodies along the way, and winds up in a reservoir in which metallic particles bind to and darken disease biomarkers.
In developing countries, Claros plans to sell mChips for $1 each and the portable analyzer for less than $500. Many lab-based tests cost more than $100 each.