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Open AccessArticle

Digital Microfluidic Platform to Maximize Diagnostic Tests with Low Sample Volumes from Newborns and Pediatric Patients

Baebies, Inc., PO Box 14403, Durham, NC 27709, USA
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Diagnostics 2020, 10(1), 21; https://doi.org/10.3390/diagnostics10010021
Received: 11 December 2019 / Revised: 29 December 2019 / Accepted: 30 December 2019 / Published: 1 January 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Miniaturized Technologies for Point-of-Care)
“Children are not tiny adults” is an adage commonly used in pediatrics to emphasize the fact that children often have different physiological responses to sickness and trauma compared to adults. However, despite widespread acceptance of this concept, diagnostic blood testing is an excellent example of clinical care that is not yet customized to the needs of children, especially newborns. Cumulative blood loss resulting from clinical testing does not typically impact critically ill adult patients, but can quickly escalate in children, leading to iatrogenic anemia and related comorbidities. Moreover, the tests prioritized for rapid, near-patient testing in adults are not always the most clinically relevant tests for children or newborns. This report describes the development of a digital microfluidic testing platform and associated clinical assays purposely curated to address current shortcomings in pediatric laboratory testing by using microliter volumes (<50 µL) of samples. The automated platform consists of a small instrument and single-use cartridges, which contain all reagents necessary to prepare the sample and perform the assay. Electrowetting technology is used to precisely manipulate nanoliter-sized droplets of samples and reagents inside the cartridge. To date, we have automated three disparate types of assays (biochemical assays, immunoassays, and molecular assays) on the platform and have developed over two dozen unique tests, each with important clinical application to newborns and pediatric patients. Cell lysis, plasma preparation, magnetic bead washing, thermocycling, incubation, and many other essential functions were all performed on the cartridge without any user intervention. The resulting assays demonstrate performance comparable to standard clinical laboratory assays and are economical due to the reduced hands-on effort required for each assay and lower overall reagent consumption. These capabilities allow a wide range of assays to be run simultaneously on the same cartridge using significantly reduced sample volumes with results in minutes.
Keywords: pediatrics; laboratory; digital microfluidics; electrowetting; nanoliter; neonatal intensive care unit (NICU); bilirubin; glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase; albumin; thyroid; insulin; creatinine; cytomegalovirus pediatrics; laboratory; digital microfluidics; electrowetting; nanoliter; neonatal intensive care unit (NICU); bilirubin; glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase; albumin; thyroid; insulin; creatinine; cytomegalovirus
MDPI and ACS Style

Sista, R.S.; Ng, R.; Nuffer, M.; Basmajian, M.; Coyne, J.; Elderbroom, J.; Hull, D.; Kay, K.; Krishnamurthy, M.; Roberts, C.; Wu, D.; Kennedy, A.D.; Singh, R.; Srinivasan, V.; Pamula, V.K. Digital Microfluidic Platform to Maximize Diagnostic Tests with Low Sample Volumes from Newborns and Pediatric Patients. Diagnostics 2020, 10, 21.

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