Diagnostic Hydrogel

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have created customizable hydrogel microparticles capable of identifying different biomolecules, disease monitoring, drug discovery, or genetic profiling. Each particle is equipped with a bar-coded ID and one or more probe regions that turn fluorescent when they detect specific targets in a test sample. The technology could make possible the development of low-cost clinical bedside diagnostics.

To rapidly "read" the particles, the researchers designed a custom "flow cytometer" using a microfluidic device and standard microscope. In this flow-through system, the oblong, disk-like shape of the particles ensures that they are precisely aligned for accurate scanning. Each time a particle flows past a detector, its barcode is read and the corresponding target is quantified.

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