Lab on a Chip Device for COVID-19

A group of multidisciplinary lab researchers collaborated with the Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity’s Global Development Lab and Dr. Ali Beskok, as he and his team research to develop a low cost, portable, point of care microfluidic device capable of diagnosing multiple conditions. As part of this project, a broader impact report authored by an interdisciplinary group of undergraduate students at the Southern Methodist University working in the Hunt Institute aimed to address the areas of greatest need in response to UNSDG #3 “to ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages.” The report is titled Bridging the Gap in Diagnostics.

With the recent global pandemic, the team shifted its focus to COVID 19 antibody (immunity) detection.  Dr. Beskok is quoted as saying, “Although the gold standard for antibody detection is the enzyme-linked immuno-sorbent assay (ELISA), its application is limited by its portability and high-cost operation. Its detection mechanism relies on receptor/target molecule reactions, which take place through diffusion-dominated transport kinetics. Therefore, the detection mechanism is quite slow and has low sensitivity. Unfortunately, the most recently developed lateral flow assays also exhibit low sensitivity and specificity, and these cannot be reliably used for determining the spread of COVID-19 infection.”

The Multiplexed Assay for the Immune Response to COVID-19 (MAIRC) system the team is developing will offer a quantifiable, accurate, fast, and inexpensive diagnostic method with its customized chips, electronics hardware, and software interface, able to detect immune response to COVID-19 based on human IgG, IgM, and IgA antibodies. The finalized microfluidic chip can be mass-produced with plastic molding or wafer-scale fab.

To read more about the Hunt Institute’s work to develop future-focused solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems, please click here. For the latest news on the Hunt Institute, follow our social media accounts on LinkedInFacebookTwitter, and Instagram. We invite you to listen to our Podcast called Sages & Seekers. If you are considering engaging with the institute, you can donate, or sign-up for our newsletter by emailing huntinstitute@smu.edu.

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