Traditional methods of pathogen detection such as lateral flow and electrochemical detection systems suffer from low sensitivity, difficulty in handling multiple tests simultaneously (multiplexing), and an inability to perform more complex steps such as sample clean-up and extraction, sequenced mixing and metering. The objective of this project is to develop a new platform that provides versatility and manufacturing reproducibility of polymer microfluidics, but affords the low cost and the instrument simplicity of lateral flow or electrochemical systems.
MiniFAB, Monash University and CSIRO are working with DMTC to develop a novel field-deployable, in-vitro diagnostic platform that uses polymer-based capillary fluidics to run relatively complex assays while using a minimal instrument (e.g. a mobile phone) for the readout. The prototype, designed by MiniFAB, features electrodes that can identify antibodies in a drop of blood in a process called electro-chemiluminescence, to diagnose the presence of a virus.
The preliminary target of this project will be the rapid detection of chikungunya. Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes. It is often misdiagnosed as dengue fever, as the two have similar symptoms. Chikungunya is of particular concern as it can cause debilitating symptoms which can last from weeks to months. Therefore, rapid diagnosis and treatment will result in minimal disruption to military and civilian personnel.