Lab-on-a-Chip, Round 2
Imagine a healthcare facility where a small sample of blood
is taken as you walk in the door, just .25 attomoles -- you’d barely notice. They
drop your sample into a small, handheld device and, by the time your physician
has come to see you, they are ready to tell you if they would like further
testing for diseases like Alzheimer’s or cancer based on the early-detection
results from their handheld test. A Dark Daily news
briefing recently announced that scientists in Japan have developed a
device that could turn that hypothetical situation into reality.
“Rapidness, simple operation, small required sample volume
and portability of the device are ideal advantages for point-of-care cancer
diagnosis,” wrote researchers Hideyuki Arata, PhD, Hiroshi Komatsun and Kazuo
Hosokawa, PhD, in a study published in PLOS
Researchers at the RIKEN Advanced Science Institute in Japan
developed the lab-on-a-chip technology, making the new device possible. While
initial efforts in development required too large a sample size for a practical
application, the project’s second generation success allows for an enhanced
examination of smaller samples while providing a quick 20 minute turnaround
time for results. This technology marks a step in the right direction for
progress in point-of-care testing (POCT).
“The development of an inexpensive and rapid point-of-care
test capable of spotting early biomarkers of disease could therefore save many
lives,” RIKEN pointed out in a story on their website.
Although the RNA-reading-microchip technology is regarded as
a scientific breakthrough, the device will still have to undergo several more
rounds of revision and modification before it is ready for clinical trials. The
Dark Daily briefing cited the device as “signal[ing] a new paradigm for
clinical laboratory testing.” In the meantime, the implication of handheld POCT
equipment opens new doors to testing in “research-poor” areas both foreign and
domestic -- allowing healthcare facilities to expand their communities, while
providing fast, on-the-go diagnosis and treatment around the world.