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Advances in microfluidics and other technologies have promoted miniaturization of instruments. This engineering revolution has migrated these diagnostic tools outside the confines of centralized clinical labs, to be near patients in clinics, intensive care units, and home environments. Clinical Chemistry’s Hot Topics of 2019 (33109) session addresses this technology boom, the subject of numerous, highly cited articles published in Clinical Chemistry.

This scientific session at the 71st AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo will focus on two applications: mass spectrometry (MS) and analysis of nucleic acids. “Both are highly complex, require experienced staff, are time consuming, and need space for testing.” Nader Rifai, PhD, DABCC, Clinical Chemistry’s editor-in-chief and a professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School and director of clinical chemistry at Boston Children’s Hospital, told CLN Stat.

Miniaturization of MS “has enabled the instrument to be hand-held, and moved to the operating room to help surgeons determine whether they have removed all cancerous tissues, assessing the margins,” explained Rifai.

Miniaturizing and other advances have made it possible to perform nucleic acid testing in the field. If an outbreak takes place in Africa, for example, “this testing can be moved there immediately, and both the analysis and results can be done and obtained on the spot,” he said. General practitioners could also use this approach in the clinic to more effectively manage patients with potential infections.

Michael Ramsey, PhD, professor of chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will address analysis of nucleic acid and protein molecules in the context of microfluidics-enabled digital biology. During his talk, he’ll discuss how to achieve high levels of multiplexing by performing massively parallel singleplex assays using encoded beads. According to Ramsey, all assays are singleplex in nature, enabling simple primer design and assay panel expansion.

He’ll specifically focus on a digital polymerase chain reaction (PCR) format that allows for high levels of multiplexing and seamlessly integrates quantitative PCR, providing a linear dynamic range of >10^8. Such an assay strategy is highly automatable, allowing target capture from complex samples, and has applications in sample-to-answer and high throughput assay formats. This strategy also allows digital quantification of proteins with high levels of multiplexing and large, dynamic ranges.

Livia Schiavinato Eberlin, PhD, an assistant professor of diagnostic medicine at the University of Texas at Austin, tackles the subject of clinical MS and moving this technology closer to patients.

Clinical Chemistry’s Hot Topics of 2019 scientific session will takes place on August 6 from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the 71st AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo in Anaheim, California. Attend this fascinating session on miniaturization technology and earn 1.5 ACCENT credit hours.