New lab-on-a-chip infection Test pins hope for faster portable diagnostics


Called TriSilix, a micro laboratory developed at the Imperial College London is a notable development for performing on the spot polymerase chain reaction in its miniature version. In fact, for clinical purposes, polymerase chain reaction is a gold standard test for detecting bacteria and viruses in biological samples such as faeces, bodily fluids, and environmental samples.

Usually, polymerase chain reaction is performed in a laboratory, meaning test results are not available immediately. On the other hand, this lab-on-a-chip process can present results in a matter of few minutes.

The chip is composed of silicon, the same material that is used in the making of electronic chips. On its own, silicon is cheap. However, to process silicon into chips is expensive. This is because it requires massive, extremely clean units known as cleanrooms.

Fabrication of chips in regular laboratory truncates lengthy manufacture process

Meanwhile, to fabricate the new lab-on-chip, researchers first created a series of methods to produce the chips in a standard laboratory. With this, it cut cost and time taken to fabricate the apparatus, thereby allowing them to be manufactured anywhere in the world.

“And, with this lab-on-a-chip apparatus, instead of sending samples to the lab or a clinic, the lab could come to be handy in a fingernail-sized chip, said the lead researcher behind the development at Department of Bioengineering, Imperial College. In fact, the test would be of much use, how people with diabetes use blood sugar tests, wherein a sample is provided and results awaited – with the difference the apparatus is for infectious diseases.

To establish the efficacy of TriSilix, researchers have so far used it to diagnose bacterial infection. Bacterial infection present in animals and a synthetic version of the genetic material for COVID-19 is what TriSilix is tested so far.

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