Pathology Lab on a Chip (December 2017)

Disease-causing agents or pathogens are of concern to the ADF when it deploys forces overseas, particularly in the world’s developing regions. Rapid identification technologies will be critical to military personnel to ensure that appropriate and timely treatment can be delivered.

This project is seeking to demonstrate an in vitro diagnostic (IVD) that is of direct relevance to military health. DMTC industry partner MiniFAB is developing a field-deployable, in vitro diagnostic (IVD) platform that uses polymer-based capillary fluidics to quickly identify a target pathogen and communicate the test results via a low-cost and readily available instrument, for example a mobile phone or similar device.

The project is bringing together industrial and research capabilities that have previously existed in isolation in Australia. Collaborating through DMTC has enabled these partners to be brought together to address a clearly defined Defence need.

Using the chikungunya virus as a pilot pathogen, key technical challenges that are being overcome as the project progresses include:
• assay development and translation
• immobilisation and blocking
• manufacturing integration
• demonstration of detection.

Research partners Monash University and CSIRO are performing antibody production at different stages. Isolation, sequencing of antibodies and their purification has been successfully completed. Multiple surface treatments have been explored for antibody attachment to the platform device. The stability of the surface treatment has been identified as one of the major risks, which is currently being mitigated. The project team is focused on delivering a fully functional, polymer-based platform by March 2018. MiniFAB has recognised that this platform technology has the potential to be relevant to multiple pathogen targets and therefore may have a significant civilian application.

For our research partners, successful demonstration of this capability will prove the value of Monash University’s state-of-the-art facilities and infrastructure, and build on CSIRO’s world-leading competency in surface treatments and biomedical devices. It also provides an opportunity to keep the technology development and manufacturing capability for the device in Australia.