Research toward developing lab-on-a-chip (LoC) for medical diagnosis is rapidly growing. Over the last 2 decades, LoC has revolutionized point-of-care testing and will continue to change the way diagnostic tests are performed in the future.

Miniaturization enables lower fluid volumes and cost, reduces turnaround time, and increases ease of operation. Current CLIA-waived LoC platforms make use of different microfluidic technologies, including pressure, capillary flow, centrifugal, or electrokinetic effects coupled to external detectors for electrochemical or optical analysis, noted Heather Nelson, PhD, clinical chemistry fellow at ARUP Laboratories.

“In working with this technology, I see how many applications it has and the great potential for both basic research and clinical investigations,” said Nelson.

Nelson will lead a roundtable session “Lab-on-a-Chip Technology: A Driving Force in Point-of-Care Testing” at the AACC 2022 Annual Scientific Meeting and Clinical Lab Expo July 24-28 in Chicago. Specifically, Nelson will lead a discussion among participants regarding experiences encountered with LoC technology and suggestions for further implementation and regulation of the technology in clinical care.

“This technology allows us to interrogate a much smaller volume of sample and often obviates the need for sample processing,” Nelson added. “It also decreases the time to result, which makes it much more amenable to the point-of-care testing space. Additionally, there has been a new shift in wearables in which individuals want more information about their own health. This has generated an interest in developing wearables and testing platforms that individuals can use at home, many of which use lab-on-a-chip technology. This particular field is in its infancy but will undoubtedly grow. With that, we need to be prepared to understand the uses and limitations.”

Despite the numerous advantages to LoC technology, such as lower volumes, reduced cost, and faster response time, several challenges remain in expanding this technology further, says Nelson. These include challenges with scaling up and mass producing the chips with consistent quality. Many of these cartridges are single-use, so cost and throughput are also important limitations.

“Lastly, regulation and quality assurance are big barriers,” she says. “This will be particularly problematic as this technology moves out of the lab and into the hands of untrained individuals. Some of these challenges may be overcome as manufacturing processes improve. Important coordinated efforts to educate users and control quality will also need to happen.”

At the end of this session, participants will be able to:

  • Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of various LoC technologies for diagnostics.
  • Discuss the challenges with standardization and commercialization of LoC platforms.
  • Cite examples of LoC-based point-of-care devices currently used.

“This presentation is timely as it will bring awareness to an expanding technology in the field of clinical diagnostics,” said Nelson. “It will offer insights into the utility of this testing and also raise awareness of potential limitations users should be aware of. Lastly, I hope it will lead to new personal connections between participants that may lead to future collaborations.”

Kimberly Scott is a freelance writer who lives in Lewes, Delaware. +Email: [email protected]