Microfluidics technology: future prospects for molecular diagnostics
Roger C Lo
Department of Chemical Engineering, California State University, Long Beach, CA, USA
Abstract: Molecular diagnostic tests have been widely used to detect and quantify biomarkers, such as nucleic acids and proteins, associated with specific health conditions or diseases to obtain the critical information for the health care providers and patients to make correct medical decisions. However, existing diagnostic instruments usually require costly reagents, long analysis time, established lab infrastructure, and trained professionals to operate, which limits their availability for large-scale screening applications in developed countries and primary care in developing countries. There is a strong demand for robust, cost-effective, and simple-to-operate instruments for molecular diagnostics. The features of microfluidics, such as short analysis time, reduction in fabrication costs, and low sample/reagent consumption, make it a natural fit for the development of new diagnostic instruments. Herein, selected work is highlighted to provide a snapshot of microfluidic devices developed for molecular diagnostics in the past 5 years, specifically focusing on their applications for the detection of agents clinically relevant to cancers, cardiac conditions, and infectious diseases, and an outlook on how microfluidics technology can be further advanced for applications in this area.
Keywords: microfluidics, micro total analysis systems (µTAS), lab-on-a-chip, molecular diagnostics, point-of-care testing
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