Microfluidic platform detects hepatitis C. (Credit: Alex Dolce)

Researchers have designed a microfluidic platform that incorporates different steps that are usually performed by trained personnel in sophisticated lab settings on a single platform. The entire virus detection process is executed inside a uniquely designed, inexpensive, disposable, and self-driven microfluidic chip.

The user-friendly device is portable and provides a visual confirmation using only a small amount of sample and few reagents. The fully automated sample-in–answer-out molecular diagnostic setup rapidly detects hepatitis C virus in about 45 minutes. The technology uses relatively inexpensive and reusable equipment costing about $50 for sample processing and disease detection. The disposable microfluidic chip also offers shorter times for a reliable diagnosis and costs about $2.

The setup consists of an automated disposable microfluidic chip, a small surface heater, and a reusable magnetic actuation platform. The compact microfluidic chip enables nucleic acid isolation, purification, amplification, and colorimetric detection of the amplified product. The system utilizes a dye to detect the amplification product with the naked eye. The dye changes color from orange to green in the presence of double-stranded DNA, resulting in easy analysis without the need for fluorescent imaging.

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