Microfluidics in Diagnosis
The focus of the research activities within this group is genitourinary medicine and antimicrobial resistance, led by Professor Wamadeva Balachandran. The group is creating a new Centre of Excellence for Diagnostic Technologies in Precision Medicine, allowing prompt and appropriate treatment at the point of care (PoC). The centre will bring together academics from Engineering, Design, Life Sciences, Health Economics, Systems Biology and key external clinical collaborators. The group has four main areas of focus:
Sample preparation, integrating a simple easy to use sample collection device for urine and swabs with automated cell lysis and nucleic acid extraction into a single use plastic disposable.
Plastic microfluidics and hardware development for point of care molecular diagnosis of infectious diseases. Microfluidic devices are fabricated using sift lithography techniques, 3D printing and MEMS/NEMS. Detection methods currently being used include optical, magnetic and surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS). Our main objectives are to produce an automated device with:
- Raw sample input (blood, urine, saliva, swabs)
- Multiple pathogen detection
- Rapid sample in to answer out <30mins
- Single use (disposable), closed loop microfluidic cartridges
Paper microfluidic molecular diagnostic devices are being developed by the group to allow sample in to answer out results without the need for external hardware and pumps. Nucleic acid extraction, isothermal amplification and detection have been shown on various paper substrates. Work is ongoing to integrate these discrete components into a single use, closed device.
Organ-on-a-chip focusing on the reproductive organs is a new area of research currently being developed. These devices can be used for fundamental studies on organ like tissues to high throughput screening of new drugs in development.