Sophisticated Point-of-Care Diagnostic Devices Based on 2D Paper Networks
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The long-range goal of the Yager laboratory is to decentralize medical testing for improved health, improved quality of life, and reduction in the cost of healthcare in the developed and developing worlds. Our approach has been to apply microfluidics to biosensors for point-of-care medical diagnostics. To reduce the cost and complexity of the tests our work in the last three years has focused on expanding the capabilities of paper-based diagnostics. Wicking is a robust method for moving fluids that can be the basis of much more sophisticated chemical processing than has been employed in today’s lateral flow tests. Two-dimensional paper networks (2DPNs) can perform complex chemical processes, but we keep the paper structures as simple as possible to minimize manufacturing costs. We are involved in two primary ongoing “demonstration projects”; both will develop 2DPN-based diagnostics, and both are small sample-to-result disposable devices that will convert pathogen counts on a nasal swab to intensity of colored spots. Key features are that they will require almost no activity on the part of the end-user after inserting the swab, and they will dispense with support equipment except a camera-equipped smart phone if quantitative detection instruments is needed. One device will perform chemical signal amplification to provide a more sensitive and multiplexed immunoassay for influenza. Collaborators are designing protein-binding molecules superior to antibodies for incorporation into the 2DPN. The other project incorporates isothermal nucleic acid amplification into the fully-disposable format, allowing detection of a few copies of specific nucleic acid sequences; our initial analytes are DNA from methicillin-resistant Staph. aureus (MRSA) or RNA from influenza. The devices will incorporate all functions, including swab elution, analyte isolation, amplification, and visible detection, and provide disposable heaters to support the amplification.