The rHEALTH technology is designed to shrink an entire hospital testing laboratory onto a handheld device. A physician or healthcare provider performs the test by collecting a fingerstick of blood from a patient. The tiny volume of blood is inserted into the rHEALTH device (see figure). Inside the device is a microfluidic chip that contains small channels about the width of a human hair. These channels help move the blood and analyze the blood sample. The rHEALTH sensor uses proprietary reagents called nanostrips, which are nanoscale test strips that enable the clinical assays. The readout is performed by laser-induced fluorescence. Overall, the time from blood collection through analysis is less than a minute.

rHEALTH Universal Blood Sensor is designed to perform a breadth of analyses on blood or bodily fluids.
The spiral-shaped microfluidic channels perform all the necessary sample preprocessing required for sample analysis. They accomplish this by mixing and diluting the blood sample in a miniaturized geometry. In contrast, for typical benchtop blood counters and clinical analyzers, these steps require automation and large amounts of reagents. Performing these steps on-chip allows these tests to be applicable for point-of-care settings. Furthermore, for reliable results, the on-chip processing steps are all compatible with the chips’ flow-through geometry, which prevents blood stasis and clotting.

The rHEALTH prototype sensor is small, rugged, and fits in the palm of a hand. It uses state-of-the-art solid-state lasers and detectors that allow for robust, time-of-flight analysis of the samples. The performance remains uncompromised, allowing high-sensitivity fluorescence analysis. Traditional flow cytometric profiles are obtained using this device. These include intensity versus intensity scatterplots and cell histograms. Flow-based, laser-induced fluorescence is thus a powerful technique that allows the user to have a universal detection platform for all of the assays, whether they be antibody, nano strip, hematology, or biomarker assays. The microfluidic system allows a wide range of reagents, including antibodies, fluorescent dyes, and proprietary nanoscale test strips to be mixed with the blood sample. Typical existing commercial sensors can only perform one test at a time.

The rHEALTH device employs sophisticated flow-based detection technologies that allow a wide range of samples to be counted, analyzed, and measured with a high degree of multiplexing. The sensor is able to perform a range of analyses for cells, electrolytes, biomarkers, nucleic acids, and small molecules on a blood sample smaller than 10 μL.

This work was done by Eugene Chan of DNA Medicine Institute, Inc. for Glenn Research Center.

Inquiries concerning rights for the commercial use of this invention should be addressed to

NASA Glenn Research Center, Innovative Partnerships Office, Attn: Steven Fedor, Mail Stop 4–8, 21000 Brookpark Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44135.