Updated on 6 December 2012
Technologies like the one used on the Veredus VereMTB (image) lab-on-chip device are revolutionizing the diagnostic industry
Gone would be the days when patients will have to walk-in to their pathologists for diagnosis of a disease and wait for several weeks to get the result for tests conducted by conventional methods. Laboratories are now shrinking to chips that could be as small as thumb size.
Lab-on-chip device is a concept of miniaturized laboratory that comes in a size of credit card and is embedded with network of micro-channels, electrodes, sensors, and electronic circuits. Evolved from micro electro mechanical systems devices, lab-on-chip can replicate all the functions that are being performed in several clinical diagnostics tests.
With an effort to bring the revolutionary platform for faster, accurate and cost effective diagnosis of tuberculosis, Singapore-based Veredus Laboratory recently launched VereMTB, a disposable cartridge that serves as on-chip DNA lab. VereMTB is a multiplexed molecular diagnostic chip capable of fast and accurate detection of Mycobacterium Tuberculosis Complex (MTBC).
Its mutations can complete the diagnosis and identify specific mycobacterium causing the infection and drug resistance in less than three hours from natural samples, avoiding the need for culturing, the most time-consuming part of the traditional method. It combines Micro-Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) with microfluidics to create a bank of micro-reactor chambers in silicon. Veredus Laboratories launched its first lab-on-chip device, VereFlu, in 2008 for rapid detection of all major influenza types.
Explaining the technicalities of the platform Ms Rosemary Tan, CEO, Veredus Laboratories, mentions that to carry out a diagnosis on lab-on-chip device, its channels are filled with sample DNA taken from the sputum of a suspected TB patient, which is then amplified into a usable quantity through a process called polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The amplified DNA sample then passes into the microchip's microarray-based detection area where its DNA is matched against the DNA of TB, its mutations and non-TB cousins.