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New micro chip can detect illness quickly

by on11 April 2008


Vere-Flu chip co-developed by STMicroelectronics

STMicroelectronics has been developing a micro chip Lab-on-Chip that acts as a mini-laboratory on a chipset, and can screen and identify multiple classes of pathogens and genes within two hours; all in a single test. This is a leap ahead for other types of tests that could previously detect only one strain and sometimes required weeks to obtain test results.

ST has been developing it in partnership with Mobidiag of Finland for some time.  It basically works by holding strands of DNA and matching them against the characteristics of known pathogens. It then compares the DNA and if it recognizes similarities it then shows that specific microorganisms have been detected. The chip runs on STMicroelectronics In-Check™ platform and uses a diagnostic panel that identifies 10 sepsis-causing bacterial species, as well as strains of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) from positive blood culture samples.

"We believe that such affordable, user-friendly, and portable devices are set to make a critical difference in a growing number of diagnostic applications," said Anton Hofmeister, Group Vice-President and General Manager for ST's Microfluidic Division. "The unique combination of ST's leading-edge semiconductor and MEMS expertise with Mobidiag's know-how in microbiological diagnostics opens new possibilities for effective detection and treatment of infectious diseases at the point of need."

Testing for bird flu is ST’s newest area of research. ST has been working in conjunction with Singapore-based Veredus Laboratories to differentiate types of flu strains over several years and has developed the Vere-Flu chip. The Vere-Flu Chip has undergone evaluation trials at Singapore’s National University Hospital over the past year. "In light of the risk of a worldwide flu pandemic, and to limit its potential global impact, we aim to provide health care professionals with the capability to quickly differentiate avian flu or severe flu strains from milder strains by their subtypes," said Dr. Rosemary Tan, CEO of Veredus. "We are also actively developing chips to detect dengue, malaria, West Nile, yellow fever, typhoid fever, Japanese encephalitis, and other diseases, and we anticipate that our products will greatly improve treatment choices."

The tiny chip allows healthcare workers to analyze and process patient samples of human blood, serum or respiratory swabs on a single, disposable thumbnail-sized microchip.

Read more here.

Last modified on 11 April 2008
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