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Newfangled lab-on-a-chip technology gets more health data from less blood

Darren Murph
02.06.11
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It's a nightmare of epic proportions: the finger prick. Anyone who detests 'em completely understands, and they'll also be supremely appreciative of the work being done by Dr. Karan Kaler and co. at the University of Calgary. Kaler's team has created a new lab-on-a-chip technology, which uses a wireless microchip to analyze nanolitre-sized samples of blood. That's far less fluid than is currently needed to run a gauntlet of tests, and this fresh take is also far more efficient. We're told that it "involves creating a structure called a micro-emulsion, which is a droplet of fluid captured inside a layer of another substance." From there, the emulsions are positioned precisely on the chip, and after tests are ran, the results are piped wirelessly to a computer. The potential here is far more impressive than the existing iteration; the long-term vision is to "create handheld devices for patients to use at home for testing fluids, such as blood and urine," which would prevent extensive wait times and enable patients to get vital information faster. There's no telling how long it'll take to escape the lab and land in the hands of those who need it, but we're sure the folks involved are cranking just as hard as they can.

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