Currently, when a patient arrives at the hospital or doctor's office feeling ill, they are first examined by the doctor, sent to a blood lab where vials of blood are taken, and then sent home to wait for results. This approach often means patients must wait days or weeks to get results. During that waiting period, they are not receiving treatment, which can be a critical factor for cancer, heart attack, or stroke patients.
Quantification of biomolecules including proteins, nucleic acids, and others from patient samples is an important area of research and commercial development. Assays for biomolecules (also referred to as bioassays) may be conducted to diagnose diseases, manage chronic conditions, and monitor the overall health of patients.
Researchers from Sandia National Laboratories have developed technology that can test and diagnose up to 64 assays on a single disc within 15 minutes of sample collection. This technology requires significantly less blood (less than a pin-prick) than the current laboratory blood draw. Besides the inherent portability of the testing device, the assay discs cost less than ten cents to manufacture, making this an affordable option for both small and large practices, with the potential to drive down the cost of testing and visits, and shorten time to treatment.
The device conducts assays using sedimentation. The system involves layering a mixture on a density medium, subjecting sedimentation particles in the mixture to sedimentation forces to cause the sedimentation particles to move to a detection area through a density medium, and detecting a target analyte in a detection region of the sedimentation channel. The sedimentation particles and labeling agent may have similar charges to reduce non-specific binding of the labeling agent and sedimentation particles. The density medium is provided with a separation layer for stabilizing the assay during storage and operation. The sedimentation channel may have a generally flat sedimentation chamber for dispersing the particle pellet over a larger surface area.
This technology has broad application beyond medical diagnostics. It can be broadly applied across food safety, environmental monitoring, bioterrorism detection, and commercial drug testing.
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