Gabriel Caballero Robledo from the Center for Research and Advanced Studies (CINVESTAV)at Monterrey, Mexico, is working on the design of a small medical device capable of detecting allergies or diseases quickly and at a low cost.
During his stay in the Netherlands to pursue postdoctoral studies, Caballero Robledo met French colleagues who worked with microfluidic devices applied to medicine, and he, as a specialist in granular matter, which is any material shaped like sand grains, decided to design and improve these devices.
When he started working at Cinvestav, located within the Park of Research and Technological Innovation (PIIT), he was interested in following this line of work with the idea of combining the knowledge of the granular material with medical microfluidic devices because he is familiar with how this little grains behave.
"We want to design disposable devices, which could be purchased at the pharmacy, be used and discarded and don't be expensive. The device would be similar to a bar of 2x1 centimeters, made of plastic with an input that processes blood or saliva."
According to the specialist, the device will detect allergies, however, he discovered that the devices are very sensitive to the density of the package of the iron particles that are within the microfluidic channels, which had not been previously considered for blood tests.
"What I will do is optimize the device and see how densely compacted are the grains of iron, as well as the amount of nanoparticles that can be caught (with grains of iron), because the more it catches, it increases the sensitivity it will have to detect allergies or various conditions ."
Microfluidic devices can be applied to medicine, by miniaturizing processes that are done in conventional large laboratory appliances. The idea is to integrate them in a small device with the advantage that it can be portable and disposable.
The researcher explains that when the nanoparticles are mixed with the blood of the person to perform clinical analysis, they move inward because of the temperature, and when they find an antibody they catch it to determine and identify an allergy or illness.
Caballero Robledo adds that at the moment they are in the stage of controlling the packing density and irregular particles. Next is understand how the capture nanoparticles changes to find the optimal size for maximum sensitivity and allergy or pathology identifying.
"In the lab at Cinvestav we developed a preparation protocol for the fluids canal that allows fine control over how the grains will be arranged in the device."
Currently, at the laboratory the team is working in how nanoparticles are trapped together, to understand what is the optimal particle size and its arrangement. Today, allergies are detected using an ELISA test with the analysis taking up to three hours. (Agencia ID)
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