Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Building A Hand-held Lab-on-a-chip To Simplify Blood Tests

Date:
April 11, 2006
Source:
National Space Biomedical Research Institute
Summary:
A cell phone-sized blood-count machine requiring less blood than a mosquito bite will make blood tests easier for many patients, from neonatal units to astronauts in space. NSBRI's lab-on-a-chip is an automated, handheld blood-count machine that delivers immediate results and accurate readings. It is being developed to help astronauts on long-duration missions assess their health in real-time.

The lab-on-a-chip is a miniaturized, portable version of a blood-count machine. On long missions, astronauts will need the ability to analyze blood samples in real-time to diagnose infection, allergies, anemia or deficiencies in the immune system.
Credit: Photo courtesy of Y. Tai, California Institute of Technology

A cell phone-sized blood-count machine requiring less blood than a mosquito bite will make blood tests easier for many patients, from neonatal units to astronauts in space.

Related Articles


Funded by the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI), researchers at the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, Los Angeles, and IRIS International, Inc., are working to create a hand-held device that provides accurate appraisals of blood chemistry using minute blood samples. The process takes about two minutes.

“Analysis of blood composition is how doctors test for infections and deficiencies in the immune system, monitor health and make medical diagnoses,” said Dr. Yu-Chong Tai, investigator on NSBRI’s Technology Development Team. “Looking ahead to future missions to the moon and Mars, astronauts will need to perform simple blood tests to get up-to-the-minute information on their health.”

Presently, the slow process of assessing blood composition requires bulky counting machines, trained technicians and a large amount of blood (approximately two syringes or ten milliliters), so analysis cannot be done in space. To assess their physiology, astronauts draw blood samples in orbit for analysis after their return. “In addition to space medicine, the technology could be used in neonatal care since large blood draws are not possible with infants,” Tai added.

“Normal blood-count machines are large to accommodate many samples and multiple tests, so to be safe, technicians take more blood from a patient than is actually needed. Since our goal is to assess blood composition on a molecular level, we only need a tiny amount,” said Tai, professor of electrical engineering and bioengineering at Caltech. “By miniaturizing the counting machine, we’re able to take a smaller sample, making the device a portable tool for space flight and in clinical settings.”

The blood-count machine will separate and identify components of blood such as red and white blood cells, lipids, proteins or oxygen. Working with IRIS International, Inc., a maker of digital diagnostic systems, Tai was able to build micro-sized valves, pumps and flow chambers that operate and fit together in the lab-on-a-chip. “Only a drop of blood is needed on the tip of the chip,” Tai said.

The blood sample is pulled into a mixing chamber where anti-coagulation chemicals are injected. Because blood has a dense population of cells, the sample then travels to a reservoir where a solution dilutes the concentration by two or three times. The sample then goes to a cell separator that divides molecules based on size.

“In this case, white blood cells will be separated from red blood cells. Because of fluid dynamics, larger molecules like white blood cells will bypass a chamber that they can’t fit into and flow into the space where they do, thus separating the blood cell types,” he said.

The cell separator puts space between molecules so that they flow easily into the counter. In large blood-count machines, cells are calculated by a technology called a Coulter counter. Tai’s lab-on-a-chip device is pioneering new technology by using two separate-yet-parallel micro-Coulter counters to calculate white blood cells and red blood cells independently.

Tai and his colleagues plan to expand the technology to assess a variety of molecules in addition to blood, add the ability to measure fluids like plasma and urine, or incorporate cell surface marker and DNA analysis.

“The chip can be designed for many applications. The miniaturized cell-counter has potential as a diagnostic tool for cancer detection by searching in plasma for certain biomolecules that could be early indicators,” Tai said. “Science has dictated that all of these things can be done, we’ve just needed to develop the technology.”

NSBRI, funded by NASA, is a consortium of institutions studying the health risks related to long-duration space flight. The Institute’s research and education projects take place at more than 70 institutions across the United States.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Space Biomedical Research Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Space Biomedical Research Institute. "Building A Hand-held Lab-on-a-chip To Simplify Blood Tests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 April 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060411222815.htm>.
National Space Biomedical Research Institute. (2006, April 11). Building A Hand-held Lab-on-a-chip To Simplify Blood Tests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060411222815.htm
National Space Biomedical Research Institute. "Building A Hand-held Lab-on-a-chip To Simplify Blood Tests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060411222815.htm (accessed November 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Having children has always been a frightening prospect in Sierra Leone, the world's most dangerous place to give birth, but Ebola has presented an alarming new threat for expectant mothers. Duration: 00:37 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola: Life Without School in Guinea

Ebola: Life Without School in Guinea

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Following the closure of schools and universities in Guinea because of the Ebola virus, students look for temporary work or gather in makeshift classrooms to catch up on their syllabus. Duration: 02:14 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins