SMARTool for blood analysis

In support of clinicians treating and patients suffering from Coronary Artery Disease (CAD).

“It is our ultimate dream to supply a microfluidic device for on-chip blood assay directly exploitable to the future SMARTool platform.” Aliki Tsopela, R&D Scientist at Micronit. 

Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease. It occurs when the arteries get plaque on their inner walls, which can harden and narrow them. Resulting in the heart muscle not getting the blood or oxygen it needs. This can lead to chest pain or a heart attack. Understandably, patients suffering from CAD can experience feelings of fear, anxiety, depression and stress due to constant worrying about their health. 

SMARTool

In support of these patients and the clinicians treating them, the Institute of Clinical Physiology (IFC-CNR) in Pisa initiated the SMARTool project which stands for Simulation Modeling of coronary ARTery disease. It’s a European project aiming to develop a platform based on cloud technology for clinical decision support to the management of patients with CAD. 

Creating such a software platform has great advantages, namely:

  • Quick and easy access to test results for all involved clinicians.
  • Assisting clinicians in early diagnosis and risk assessment.
  • More efficient and effective treatment for CAD patients.

Micronit’s involvement 

We got involved when IFC-CNR was looking for a microfluidic translation of a miniaturised blood analysis device. So in January 2016 Sandro Meucci and Aliki Tsopela, R&D scientists at Micronit, joined the SMARTool project for a period of three years, focusing on the reliability of blood analysis via lab-on-a-chip by researching and testing the quality of the on-chip blood assay. At the end of 2018 they hope and expect to present good results and start the next phase of the project and be able to realise ‘the dream’: a microfluidic device for on-chip blood assay directly exploitable to the future SMARTool platform.

The dream

Aliki Tsopela: “It is our ultimate dream to supply a microfluidic device for on-chip blood assay directly exploitable to the future SMARTool platform. In other words, use a microfluidic device to analyze a patient’s blood faster and immediately upload the results to a cloud which all involved clinicians have direct access to.” 

Sandro Meucci adds: “The chip we want to create for this device will have several blocks that each have a different analytical purpose. One for analyzing blood cells and one for analyzing blood plasma. The results will characterise the specific inflammation profile of the patients considering both the status of immune cells and substances present in blood. This will aid clinicians in early diagnosis and risk assessment.”  
 

The process

Aliki further explains: “In order to yield this chip, we will focus on developing platform technologies and functionalities that are necessary to perform several assays on chip, such as integrating sample preparation modules as well as integrating capillary-based flow control elements." 

The final lab-on-chip sample preparation will incorporate distinct modules: 

  • Blood plasma separation module
    This module will be based on capillary action and flow control elements.
  • Monocyte separation module
    This module will use Micronit’s resealable technology (which allows the re-opening of chips) with a removable filtration membrane for off-line analysis. 

Micronit will also develop the detection strategy for plasma biomarkers and monocytes populations, both indicators of the CAD and will use the Scienion Spotter to functionalise the surface of the chips with capturing probes (antibodies), necessary to perform the assay.

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