Microfluidic biochip

Schematic of the leukocyte counting chip with lysing, quenching, and counter modules shown in different colors. The insert (upper left) is an enlarged view of the platinum microfabricated electrodes (yellow). Credit: U. Hassan et al./UIUC - World Scientific

Using a new microfluidic chip researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign can count red blood cells, platelets and white blood cells at one tenth of the cost of a normal blood testing and with a procedure that does not require any specific training.

The chip is basically a microsensor that is fed with a single blood drop and uses micro fluidic channels to electrically count the blood cells singling out its different constituents (red, white and platelets).

The blood sample is placed on a credit card size disposable cartridge and then the cartridge is inserted in the device that performs the counting in steps, first the red blood cells, then the platelets and then the leukocytes. 

The cost per sample is of the order of 10$, one tenth of the cost of a normal blood test today, and results are available within ten minutes.

It is so simple to operate that researchers are expecting it to be used at home by patients, with the results transmitted electronically to the doctor.

 

Author - Roberto Saracco

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