An integrated digital microfluidic lab-on-a-chip for clinical diagnostics on human physiological fluids

Vijay Srinivasan, Vamsee K Pamula, Richard B Fair
Lab on a Chip 2004, 4 (4): 310-5
Clinical diagnostics is one of the most promising applications for microfluidic lab-on-a-chip systems, especially in a point-of-care setting. Conventional microfluidic devices are usually based on continuous-flow in microchannels, and offer little flexibility in terms of reconfigurability and scalability. Handling of real physiological samples has also been a major challenge in these devices. We present an alternative paradigm--a fully integrated and reconfigurable droplet-based "digital" microfluidic lab-on-a-chip for clinical diagnostics on human physiological fluids. The microdroplets, which act as solution-phase reaction chambers, are manipulated using the electrowetting effect. Reliable and repeatable high-speed transport of microdroplets of human whole blood, serum, plasma, urine, saliva, sweat and tear, is demonstrated to establish the basic compatibility of these physiological fluids with the electrowetting platform. We further performed a colorimetric enzymatic glucose assay on serum, plasma, urine, and saliva, to show the feasibility of performing bioassays on real samples in our system. The concentrations obtained compare well with those obtained using a reference method, except for urine, where there is a significant difference due to interference by uric acid. A lab-on-a-chip architecture, integrating previously developed digital microfluidic components, is proposed for integrated and automated analysis of multiple analytes on a monolithic device. The lab-on-a-chip integrates sample injection, on-chip reservoirs, droplet formation structures, fluidic pathways, mixing areas and optical detection sites, on the same substrate. The pipelined operation of two glucose assays is shown on a prototype digital microfluidic lab-on-chip, as a proof-of-concept.

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