Devices that speed up the process of medical diagnostics can dramatically increase patients’ chances of survival. Recently, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques IPM in Freiburg, Germany, developed a biochip that detects blood poisoning within 20 minutes, according to a Fraunhofer press release. Conventional methods require a doctor to send a blood sample to a central laboratory for testing. The new device would allow doctors to analyse the blood samples in their own practice.
The chip could also be used for other applications, such as to test for cancer or doping. Each biochip can be used only once. Dr. Albrecht Brandenburg, Group Manager at IPM, estimates that each chip could cost less than one euro when produced on a large scale.
The device separates red blood cells from the blood and guides the remaining blood plasma onto the biochip. Antibodies on the chip fit with proteins that are produced when a patient is suffering from blood infection. The chip is rinsed with a solution of antibodies marked with a fluorescent dye. If the patient has an infection and the antibodies and protein link to each other, the chip is illuminated. The chip can be used to test for different proteins at the same time by placing various catcher molecules in the chip.Camilla Andersson