Spinning drops of blood, Angewandte Chemie press release
Issued: Fri, 28 Mar 2014 11:04:00 GMT
Parasitic infections like malaria and sleeping sickness affect hundreds of millions of people, primarily in the poorest regions of the world. Diagnosis of these diseases is often difficult because the concentration of parasites in the blood can be very low. British scientists have now developed a simple chip-based method for enriching rare cells in blood samples. As they report in the journal Angewandte Chemie, this allows the detection limit for the parasites that cause malaria and sleeping sickness to be lowered by two to three orders of magnitude.
Existing techniques for the separation and enrichment of parasites in blood samples are difficult to use in isolated regions and developing countries because they usually require complex chemistry for labeling cells, costly instruments, or extensive infrastructure. An inexpensive technique that requires only small amounts of power, works without labeling the cells, and uses just a drop of blood from a fingertip, is needed. A team headed by Jonathan M. Cooper at the University of Glasgow has now developed such an approach. Their innovative method is based on an acoustically controlled microchip that is used in a battery-driven, hand-held device. The researchers successfully used their technique to enrich malaria-infected blood cells and the parasite that causes sleeping sickness in blood samples.
This research required a cross disciplinary team of scientists from the School of Engineering, the Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflamation and the Wellcome Trust Centre for Molecular Parasitology at the University of Glasgow.