Dr. Martin Smolka, project manager of the H2020 project NextGenMicrofluidics, spoke exclusively to Ärzte Exklusiv about the role of lab-on-a-chip systems in medical diagnostics and outlined the potential of a future lab-on-a-chip system.
“One advantage of lab-on-a-chip systems is that they allow the automated implementation of complex analyses even in small laboratories with relatively limited technical equipment,” said Smolka in the interview. These systems thus enable so-called point-of-care diagnostics. “Meanwhile, compact and portable devices are available, which enables decentral modern diagnostics, for example at the doctor’s office. So the medical samples don’t need to be send to laboratories,” said Smolka. Hence, the results are available after hours or even minutes rather than days, which is a decisive advantage.
Previous research work has already led to products for DNA-based diagnostics. Dr. Smolka explained in the interview: “Lab-on-a-Chip systems enable the rapid detection of characteristic sections of the genome of pathogens. The lab-on-a-chip takes up the sample liquid to be examined in a microchannel network with a detection chamber; in this chamber, DNA sequences of the test molecules are identified which, for example, indicate the antibiotic resistance of the tested bacteria.” The commercial lab-on-a-chip-based test platform developed by the Upper Austrian company GENSPEED Biotech, a partner of JOANNEUM RESEARCH, thus enables the detection of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The results are available in less than 100 minutes – an enormous time saving compared to laboratory measurements, which take 24 to 72 hours.