Nano Nod for Lab on a Chip

At its core is a small plastic chip developed with nanotechnology that holds the key to determining whether a patient is resistant to cancer drugs or has diseases like malaria. The chip can also pinpoint infectious diseases in a herd of cattle.

"We are basically replacing millions of dollars of equipment that would be in a conventional, consolidated lab with something that costs pennies to produce and is field portable so you can take it where needed. That is where this technology shines," said Jason Acker of the U of A.

The Domino employs polymerase chain reaction technology used to amplify and detect targeted sequences of DNA, but in a miniaturised form that fits on a plastic chip the size of two postage stamps. The chip contains 20 gel posts — each the size of a pinhead — capable of identifying sequences of DNA with a single drop of blood.

Each post performs its own genetic test, meaning you can not only find out whether you have malaria, but also determine the type of malaria and whether your DNA makes you resistant to certain antimalarial drugs. It takes less than an hour to process one chip, making it possible to screen large populations in a short time.

"That is the real value proposition — being able to do multiple tests at the same time," Acker said.

"With most cancers you want to treat the patient with the most effective therapeutic as possible," said the team leader Linda Pilarski. "That is what this does: it really enables personalised medicine. It will be able to test every patient at the right time, right in their doctor's office. That is currently not feasible because it is too expensive."

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Alberta