Scientists at the Methodist Hospital Research Institute and MD Anderson Cancer Center developed a special chip that can quickly analyze up to 50 different biomarkers in one go. The chip can help test for insulin and other blood proteins, cholesterol, drugs and even signs of viral or bacterial infection all at the same time. It does all that quickly and at a fraction of a cost it will take to perform all these tests at a lab.
Scientists created a new piece of technology that might help save many lives in the future. The V-chip developed by scientists from the Methodist Hospital Research Institute is about the size of a credit card and can perform up to 50 different tests in one go using only one drop of blood.
Many of the blood tests performed by the V-chip (ak.a. as volumetric bar-chart chip) is currently done using expensive, large lab equipment such as mass spectrometers. These tests also take time and require trained personal to perform, something many patients do not have and is lacking in many hospitals.
The V-chip is made of 2 thin parts of glass filled with hydrogen peroxide and up to 50 different antibodies for specific proteins, DNA or RNA fragments, lipids, and the enzyme catalase and more. A drop of blood is put on the V-chip and a shift in the glass plates brings the wells into contact, creating a zig-zagged space from one end of the V-chip to the other through which the drop of blood travels.
As the blood zigzag through the space inside the V-chip, the antibodies bound to the glass slide, catalase is made active and splits nearby hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen gas (a method known as ELISA). The oxygen pushes a drop of dye up the column – creating a clear line. The more reaction to the antibody there is the longer the line – simple to read and interpret as well as elegant.
The researchers believe that the sensitivity of the V-chip can be improved if narrower and longer bar channels are used on the chip and the next step in the development is going to be making the unit more user friendly and be so simple to use so that almost any hospital personal might be able to use it.
More information can be found on the Methodist Hospital website. You can find the original article on the following link.
The following Nature video demonstrates the V-chip
Iddo has a B.A. in Philosophy and Cognitive Science and an M.A. in Philosophy of Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is currently writing his Ph.D. thesis on the relationship between the scientific community and industry. Iddo was awarded the 2006 Bar Hillel philosophy of science prize for his work on the relationship between science and technology. He is a member of the board of the lifeboat foundation and was the editor of several high-profile science and technology websites since 1999.