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This fully automated device includes an image-guided robot for drawing blood from veins, a sample-handling module and a centrifuge-based blood analyzer. (Credit: Max Balter)

Researchers have created an automated blood drawing and testing device that provides rapid results, potentially improving the workflow in hospitals and other health-related institutions to allow healthcare practitioners to spend more time treating patients.

“This device represents the holy grail in blood testing technology,” says Martin L. Yarmush, senior author of the study and Paul & Mary Monroe Endowed Chair & Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. “Integrating miniaturized robotic and microfluidic (lab-on-a-chip) systems, this technology combines the breadth and accuracy of traditional blood drawing and laboratory testing with the speed and convenience of point-of-care testing.”

The device includes an image-guided robot for drawing blood from veins, a sample-handling module, and a centrifuge-based blood analyzer. Their device provides highly accurate results from a white blood cell test, using a blood-like fluid spiked with fluorescent microbeads. The testing used artificial arms with plastic tubes that served as blood vessels. The device could provide rapid test results at bedsides or in ambulances, emergency rooms, clinics, and doctors’ offices.

The researchers say they focused on creating a modular and expandable device. Because of its simple chip design and analysis techniques, the device can be extended to incorporate a broader panel of tests in the future.

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