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Mar 27, 2012Science and Technology
Microfluidic chip quickly diagnoses flu

The H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009 underscored weaknesses in methods to diagnose the flu, from frequent false negatives to long wait times for results. Now a four-year study has validated a prototype rapid, low-cost, accurate, point-of-care device for diagnosing the flu. Once optimized and deployed, the new device could quickly diagnose both seasonal and pandemic strains of influenza, limiting the spread of infection. To produce the device, the researchers miniaturized an expensive, three-hour, lab-scale diagnostic test -- known as RT-PCR and now considered the gold standard in flu detection -- into a single-use microfluidic chip. About the size of a standard microscope slide, the integrated chip consists of a column at the top that extracts RNA from signature proteins in the sample associated with the influenza A virus, a middle chamber that converts the RNA into DNA and a climate-controlled lower channel used to replicate the DNA in sufficient quantities so it can be detected by an external reader.

Relevant Locations: Boston, MA, USA
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