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Distributed Analysis of Environmental Pollutants Using Microfluidics

Luke Allpress
3 October 2012

A group in Denmark recently published an article in Lab on a Chip detailing the application of microfluidic gold enhancement processes to environmental pollutant analysis. The devices use a digital camera as the optical sensor to detect the gold nanoparticles bound to pollutants such as mercury.

With detection limits as low as 0.6 µg/L for mercury, this technology will simplify the efforts of deep field analytics for environmental pollution. The application of gold nanoparticle technology to contaminants shows potential to create more rapid, accurate analytics for field research in the future.

Article citation: Lafleur, Josiane, et. al, "Gold nanoparticle-based optical microfluidic sensors for analysis of environmental pollutants." Lab on a Chip, Advance Article, 20 Jun 2012.

Dr. Paul Yager is a "Top Doc" in Seattle!

Carly Holstein
30 July 2012

Congrats to Dr. Paul Yager who has been recognized by Seattle Magazine as one of the "Top Doctors" for 2012! This honor falls under the magazine's "Global Health Awards" category and credits Dr. Yager as one of nine top global health innovators in the Seattle area. Check out the full article here!

University of Washington's Depart of Bioengineering Chair, Dr. Paul Yager. Photo by Sean Gumm, via

Microfluidics 2.0 now on Twitter

Carly Holstein
19 July 2012

We are pleased to announce that Microfluidics 2.0 is now on Twitter! Follow us @Microfluidics20 to receive updates about this site and all things #MF20. Happy Tweeting!

FDA Approves the First At-Home HIV Diagnostic Test

Carly Holstein
17 July 2012

Earlier this month, the FDA announced its approval of the first over-the-counter, rapid HIV test for at-home use. The test, OraSure's OraQuick In-Home HIV Test, allows users to test their own saliva for the presence of anti-HIV antibodies, using a rapid test strip that provides a result in 20-40 minutes.

The decision to approve this test was a controversial one, given the many questions surrounding at-home testing and the ~3-month window period that exists between HIV transmission and the development of anti-HIV antibodies. However, following the recommendation of its panel, the FDA decided that the benefits of at-home HIV testing outweighed the risks. In particular, this decision was largely motivated by the fact that nearly 20% of the 1.2 million people living with HIV in the United States are unaware of their status (see the CDC's fact sheet). By increasing access to HIV testing, it is hoped that this test will empower more people to know their HIV status so they can get the treatment they need and help prevent the spread of the virus.

This approval represents a breakthrough not only for the fight against HIV, but also for at-home testing in general. Although the FDA has approved many over-the-counter tests for at-home use in the past--including tests for pregnancy, glucose/diabetes monitoring, and drugs of abuse--this OraQuick In-Home HIV Test represents the first ever approved test for an infectious disease. As a developer of point-of-care diagnostics, this approval is extremely exciting, as it sets a precedent for the approval of at-home diagnostic tests. Now the question is, which test will be next??

Great Example of POC Device for Blood Testing!

Samantha Byrnes
26 June 2012


Myshkin Ingawale, TED TalksA Blood Test Without Bleeding

In his February 2012 TED Talk Myshkin Ingawale introduces the story of ToucHb, a needle free blood testing system developed by him and his team at Biosense Technologies to diagnose anemia in low resource settings (LRS).  World-wide, anemia kills one mother and child approximately every minute but it is a fully curable condition through treatment with inexpensive and available iron and folic acid tablets.  The main issue surrounding anemia in LRS is that standard diagnosis requires a blood sample, a $10,000+ machine, and a trained laboratory technician.  ToucHb is a simple point-of-care device that tests hemoglobin levels, blood oxygen levels, and heart rate in about 20 seconds to aid in the diagnosis of anemia.  The system is needle-free, simple to use (one user step), portable, and runs on just a pair of AA batteries.  Check out this inventive and fun talk!


Registration now open for the 2nd Annual Microfluidics 2.0 Workshop!

Shefali Oza
3 June 2012

We are excited to report that registration is now open for the Second Annual Workshop on Capillary-based Microfluidics for Bioanalysis.  Dr. Klapperich's lab at Boston University, along with the Boston University Department of Biomedical Engineering, will be hosting the workshop from 30 November to 1 December 2012.  

This workshop will include lectures and a poster session on the first day, followed by hands-on demos and lab session the next day.  Registration for the second day is limited, so be sure to sign up soon!

To brush up on your knowledge of the current state of paper-based microfluidics, you can take a look at the agenda and content (including links and presentation slides) from last year's workshop.  This past workshop was hosted by our (Paul Yager's lab) at the University of Washington, and we are excited to join you in learning about new paper-based microfluidic updates at the workshop this fall in Boston!

To directly access the registration link for the 2012 workshop, please click here.  

New article from our group published in Analytical Chemistry

Josh Buser
30 May 2012

We're really excited about the new publication from our group regarding two-dimensional paper networks (2DPNs): Two-Dimensional Paper Network Format That Enables Simple Multistep Assays for Use in Low-Resource Settings in the Context of Malaria Antigen Detection, published in Analytical Chemistry. Taking the robustness, low cost, and ease of use of traditional lateral flow strips and adding the capability of multi-step chemical processing, two-dimensional paper networks (2DPNs) are demonstrated in this study to be a great platform for the amplified detection of the malaria protein PfHRP2. Traditional laboratory-based signal amplification can improve the limit of detection for assays like the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The same concept is applied in the assay presented in this paper by sequencing reagent delivery using the geometry of the 2DPN.

The device works based on sequential reagent delivery. This figure from the publication shows the timed arrival of reagents (in this case food coloring for visualization) in what will be the detection zone of the final device. At four minutes, the yellow reagent arrives in the detection zone, followed by red and blue at 11 and 18 minutes, respectively.

The final PfHRP2 detection device uses a folded geometry for activation, putting the source pads in contact with the paper network. The reagent delivery happens in a similar fashion to what was shown in the food coloring demonstration, only in this case sample solution, buffer, and gold enhancement reagents are being delivered, resulting in amplification of the original gold particle-antibody conjugate signal.

The article citation is: Fu E, Liang T, Spicar-Mihalic P, Houghtaling J, Ramachandran S, Yager P.  Two-dimensional paper network format that enables simple multistep assays for use in low-resource settings in the context of malaria antigen detection.  Anal. Chem., 2012, 84(10), pp 4574-4579.