The concept of a Lab-on-a-Chip has been around for many years but this project, which has been co-ordinated by IK4-Ikerlan, has brought together over a dozen different companies from around Europe to contribute the various technologies needed to make it a success. Called LabOnFoil, the result is a technology that could find use for example in the identification of pathogens, pathologies or environmental contaminants.
Each LabOnFoil kit is designed to identify a particular type of DNA. The Pathogen testing range can identify either Campylobacter or Salmonella. The Pathology range is tuned to blood proteins whose presence indicates that a treated cancer patient does not have a re-occurrence of cancer. The Environmental range detects the presence of red algae that gives an indication of climate change as this causes algae blooms when the sea temperature rises.
These all use a special, credit card-sized, plastic test unit, dubbed the LabCard, which is pre-loaded with the appropriate reagents for the test required. The LabCard is made from injection moulded plastic with the appropriate reservoirs and valves as required for a particular specific analysis. A thin film of plastic is laminated on top to seal in the reagents and this is flexible enough to act as valves when moving the liquids though the various stages such as Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) to replicate and increase the DNA.
The sample is sucked up into the supplied syringe where it mixes with the initial reagents and is then squirted into a reservoir on the LabCard. The LabCard is then inserted into a LabCardReader reader unit that automatically heats the LabCard, and opens and closes the valves on it to move the test sample through the preparation stages. The last step is to detect fluorescence that indicates the presence of the target DNA which can be in concentrations as low as a few femtograms of DNA in 30 minutes.
"We are now helping IK4-Ikerlan plan the strategy