Polymer biochips for portable molecular diagnostics

Sunny Shah and Satyajyoti Senapati​, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (UND)

Microfluidic advances in the last decade promise to catalyze a new generation of medical diagnostic devices that can be operated in the field by untrained personnel without clinical facilities, thus transforming global healthcare. While low-cost paper-based devices are now being used for field immuno-assays, nucleic acid sensors of pathogens that would allow earlier and more specific contagious disease diagnosis remain expensive and laboratory bound. Prof. Chang’s lab has developed a multi-functional polymer biochip platform[i],[ii] that includes a micro-pump, a cell lysing unit, a nucleic acid separation/concentration unit, a PCR unit and a sensing unit, which can detect fewer than 100 organisms per ml. All the units are integrated within a polymer chip and are controlled/activated by lead wires connected to the chip through an upper level of reservoirs. The entire chip can be connected to a smart-phone or a laptop via the USB port, such that Cloud storage and remote data analysis are possible for the push-button device. Current sample testing includes Dengue virus, E. coli and Brucella. The REU student will design, fabricate and test such multiplex and multi-target biochips in Prof Chang’s prototype laboratory. They will be able to present results in several Chemistry, Engineering and Global Health conferences and explore field tests on patient samples. Faculty participation from the target schools is welcomed and encouraged. 

[i]Senapati, S. Basuray, S. Slouka, Z. Cheng, L.-J. and Chang, H.-C., "A Nanomembrane-Based Nucleic Acid Sensing Platform for Portable Diagnostics," Topics in Current Chemistry, 2011, 304, 153-169

[ii]Senapati, S., Mahon, A. R., Gordon, J. Nowak, C., Sengupta, S., Powell, T. H. W.,  Feder, J., Lodge, D. M. and Chang, H.-C., "Rapid on-chip Genetic Detection Microfluidic Platform for Real World Applications," Biomicrofluidics, 2009, 3, 02240