The portable lab-on-a-chip is called the MR Box. (Credit: Ryan Fobel, IBBME PhD 1T6)

A team of researchers has developed a portable, reconfigurable lab-on-a-chip diagnostic platform and field-tested the system in remote Kenya. Their validated platform can gauge the level of immunity to vaccine-preventable diseases among vulnerable populations. Their work appears today in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

The low-cost device matched the international laboratory-standard reference tests of the Kenyan Medical Research Institute for 86 percent of measles samples, and 91 percent of rubella samples. These results underscore their platform's potential to help identify populations susceptible to epidemics in remote or under-resourced locations.

The platform is inexpensive, fast and flexible. The chips are made using low-cost fabrication techniques such as inkjet and 3D printing, and the droplets are controlled by applying electrical signals to different electrodes. Dubbed the MR Box, the platform is a desktop lab the size of a toaster oven configured to test for measles and rubella.

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