The Disease diagnosis is a very expensive process which sometimes ends up being more expensive than medicines and doctor fees combined. It is, therefore, a bane for poor people that can hardly afford proper treatment in developing and underdeveloped countries. Just think of all the medical tests you have been through how many of those were paid by your health insurance company. The costs of these tests is sometimes very high and reaches upto a thousand dollars. There are a numerous aspects that play crucial role in enhancing prices of medical tests like the cost of equipment, machines, laboratories, technicians, and so forth.
A team of researchers working at the Stanford University thus started on a quest to find a reasonable solution for this problem. They ended up creating a special kind of diagnostic instrument that cost a single cent and is capable of diagnosing major health problem on an instrument as small as a chip. They have named it as “lab-on-a-chip” device. In order to build this chip, the combined a number of technologies related with inkjet printing, electronics, and microfluids. The lab-on-a-chip system has two parts, the first has a clear silicone microfluidic chamber that has cells placed on the top of a reusable electronic strip. The researchers made use of inkjet printer along with nanoparticle ink to make the electric strip that finds its way inside the microfluidic chambers.
One of the most potent applications of this chip is analysis of various cell types where you wouldn’t have to use any kind of magnetic or fluorescent labels. In place of that, the chip separates these cells with the help of a process known as di-electrophoresis that is based in their internal electrical characteristics. Whenever any electric potential is applied over these printed electronic strip, these cells are pulled into different or rather opposite directions according to their respective “polarizability” permitting doctors to differentiate between these. A research associate from this team, Rahim Esfandyarpour, says, “Enabling early detection of diseases is one of the greatest opportunities we have for developing effective treatments. Maybe one dollar in the U.S. doesn’t count that much, but somewhere in the developing world, it’s a lot of money.”
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