Automated lab workflows allow the performance of a complete on-chip analysis. Now, let’s take this one step further. Let’s say we want the analysis, but also immediate results. Sample in, answer out. Modern molecular diagnostics solutions empower a new generation of sample-to-answer platforms. These devices offer high sensitivity, high specificity, robustness, and they deliver rapid analytic results. This equipment is stand-alone and autonomous so that it can be used entirely outside of standard lab settings.
A sample-to-answer platform is a fully integrated microfluidic device that can incorporate on-chip mixers, valves, pumps, sensors, channels, and chambers that together perform the analysis of complex biological samples. In some cases, it is possible to integrate a read-out system into the microfluidic cartridge (as is done in a pregnancy test), in other cases a handheld reader will be required to see the results. Sample prep steps like filtration, cell separation, and purification as well as volume metering can be performed on-chip. This places high demands on all on-chip technologies, such as surface functionalization, reagent integration, flow control, sample prep, and transducer integration.
Sample-to-answer platforms are completely self-contained, which eliminates the risk of sample contamination and simplifies the actual testing procedure. In fact, these devices can be operated by practically anyone, even by patients themselves. This way, people could monitor their own health on certain specifications. Irregularities could be detected and treated, preventing the disease to develop. Medical intervention could take place in a much earlier stage, making it less drastic for both the patient and for the entire healthcare system.
This brings us to the field of personalized medicine, which stands for treating patients based on their unique (genetic) characteristics. This ‘tailor-made therapy’ is on the rise in the medical world, for it is becoming increasingly clear that these factors can determine how someone responds to a drug. Hereditary traits may cause some people to respond well or not to certain medications, which may affect the type of medication or the dose that should be best administered. Lab-on-a-chip and Point-of-Need technologies are an important link in translating this knowledge into practical use.
Does your project need a sample-to-answer solution? At Micronit, we team up with our customers and together go through the different stages of the development and production process of such a device. Tell us what you need and benefit from our knowledge and experience in this field!
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