A Houston-based research team has developed a pocket-size assay
designed to simultaneously test for up to 50 biomarkers with just one drop of blood. Created by scientists at the Methodist Hospital Research Institute and MD Anderson Cancer Center, the V-Chip can be used to analyze blood proteins and viral or bacterial infections, according to Lidong Qin, the principal investigator and a nanomedicine faculty member at the institute. Preliminary results for the device were published in mid-December by Nature Communications
The V-Chip, or volumetric bar-chart chip, is a portable alternative to similar assays that require mass spectrometers or other lab equipment and larger blood samples. Approximately the size of a business card, the device could be used in POC settings such as the bedside and remote areas, Qin says. It comprises two thin pieces of glass measuring approximately 3 in. by 2 in. with wells for four items that eventually combine using the ELISA analysis method. These items are hydrogen peroxide; up to 50 different antibodies; DNA or RNA fragments, lipids of interest, and enzyme catalase; serum or other sample; and a dye. The wells are initially separated from each other until the glass plates are shifted to bring the wells into contact with a substance of interest, according to the Qin.
"The sensitivity of the V-chip can be improved if narrower and longer bar channels are used," Qin says. "Our next steps are to make the device more user-friendly and be so simple to use, it barely needs instructions."