Designing cartridges: custom or off-the-shelf? -- MEDICA Trade Fair

10/06/2017

Redbud Labs

Designing cartridges: custom or off-the-shelf?

We recently had the pleasure of collaborating with the talented folks at Fusion Biotec to write a short piece looking at how diagnostics development is changing. Our primary observation: microfluidic technologies are maturing, and that means more pre-built and off-the-shelf options than ever before.

From the article:
"Designing point-of-care diagnostic cartridges has always been a custom affair….However, as the industry matures, novel components, pre-developed subsystems, and even entire white-label systems are increasingly viable options….Diagnostic cartridges are usually microfluidic systems in which fluids behave non-intuitively, and assays that performed reliably in a wet lab with pipettes and tubes may start to fail….

Using modules and components that have been road tested in similar assays can mitigate these risks. Historically, this was nearly impossible because microfluidics was an active research area. But over the last two decades, microfluidics has moved slowly but unmistakably from the research lab to the manufacturing floor, and ultimately into the clinic. As the field matures and methods become more consistent, purpose-built components become better defined".

Of course, we’re particularly proud of our contribution to this rapidly advancing technology stack. MXR is the first microfluidic mixer designed specifically for integration into diagnostic consumables, and it can substantially reduce the risk of cartridge development. As we say in the article, MXR is a specialty component that allows cartridge designers to enable mixing “in the same location as a function like reagent combination, sample incubation, or signal detection.” We also get to talk about why mixing, in particular, is a problem better left to specialists:

"The temptation to develop an in-house solution is also dangerous because mixing in microfluidic systems is a well-established, deeply challenging problem and the subject of intense academic research. In these cases, adding the right component to an existing module is a helpful solution".

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