In the future, this self-powered chip could diagnose HIV and TB in minutes

The device could check for diseases such as cancer, cardiac disease, HIV and TB.
Written by Boonsri Dickinson, Contributing Editor

Researchers have created a device that could rapidly check blood for diseases within minutes. The device would work like a pregnancy test, but could identify diseases such as HIV and TB almost instantly. In the future, it could be used in developing countries to diagnose diseases such as cancer, cardiac disease and others.

The scientists at University of California at Berkeley have automated the process of separating the blood cells. The benefit? The diagnosis process doesn't take as long on a small scale.

The researchers used the chip to separate the plasma from the blood cells and detect if vitamin B7 or biotin was present.

The chip uses the process of degas-driven flow to drive the blood through. That way, the blood prep work relies on gravity instead of an external power source.

UC Berkeley professor Luke Lee said in a statement:

“This is a very important development for global healthcare diagnostics. Field workers would be able to use this device to detect diseases such as HIV or tuberculosis in a matter of minutes."

The device is called the Self-powered Integrated Microfluidic Blood Analysis System, or SIMBAS.

The researchers put in a certain concentration of vitamin B7 into the chip's inlet. After the solution ran through, the levels of the vitamin B7 were detected in just 10 minutes.

There's a huge portability problem with current lab-on-a-chip devices. Normally, it's a hassle to hook up tubing or prepare the sample.

I know about this from experience: hooking the motor up to the chip, and then trying to run samples through the chip was a difficult task. It took a lot of time. It felt like a chore. There was no way, the device could be truly portable.

But it seems like the Berkeley researchers have figured out a way to make the device autonomous, which is a huge step towards making a portable machine.

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