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A Pocket-Sized Lab

People living in remote areas of developing nations are often struck with diseases that are preventable or curable, says the Guardian's GrrlScientist. Unfortunately, they often can't get to places where they could be treated. So now, in a "brilliant cross-pollination of engineering, physics and biology," researchers have developed a pocket-sized microfluidics-based device that can accurately diagnose syphilis and HIV in minutes, in any location, GrrlScientist says. The device, known as the mChip, requires one microliter of whole blood to detect disease, and is comparable in efficiency to bench-top assays, though it takes only about 20 minutes and is cheaper. The researchers, who recently published their work in Nature, say the mChip can test seven samples and requires no moving parts or electricity. "The mChip relies on the passive delivery of multiple reagents," GrrlScientist says. "These reagents are preloaded in the correct sequence in a narrow tube and separated from each other by an air bubble. These reagents pass over a series of four dense meanders, the mChip's detection zones, before exiting the chip into a disposable syringe. This manually controlled syringe generates the vacuum that pulls the blood and liquid reagents through the mChip's meanders."

The Scan

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