A new microfluidic biosensor, which is a kind of a lab-on-a-chip device, was developed by researches from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, UIUC. Employing electrical methods, it calculates the amount of erythrocytes, leukocytes and platelets quickly and precisely by using one drop of blood only. This device can be considered as a viable substitute for blood analyzers – cumbersome and unhandy laboratory devices which require specially trained personnel and a great deal of money.
Biosensor calculates the amount of different cells based on the size and quality of cell membranes. To estimate the accurate number of leukocytes, erythrocytes and platelets, they are selectively destroyed and the total amount of the cells left are counted. Other types of cells, such as neutrophils, are calculated by means of multi-range frequency analyses, which makes it possible to determine qualities of such cell membranes. It is also important to note that due to the employment of quite complicated algorithms of filtering and processing electrical signals, body cells calculation has become stiffly accurate. In some cases, it is even more precise than that of the large and expensive analyzers.
The device of a credit card size has several special cartridges, which can be filled with blood by any layman with minimum experience. Such devices are expected to be in the widespread use primarily in private and state hospitals functioning in rough conditions of the Third World countries.
Moreover, with the help of such biosensors, people will be able to run blood test with no outside help and it would take no more than 20 minutes. Then, such test results can be either transferred to the specialized software application, which controls patient’s health condition, or they can be sent via Internet to the corresponding healthcare professional. Using this new biosensor will allow reducing price for the haematology test panel up to $10, which is far less than 100$ - a regular price of such analyses run on traditional equipment.