Last month, Dr. Paul Yager, Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Washington and one of the pioneers of Microfluidics 2.0, took the stage at TEDx Rainier to discuss his lab's work on and his vision for the future of paper-based diagnostics. Dr. Yager talks about the many use cases for paper-based testing, ranging from at-home testing in the developed world ("Can I send my kid to school?" or "What's that itch down there?") to critical disease diagnosis and outbreak control in the developing world and beyond (Ebola). Dr. Yager's talk was just published to YouTube--I highly encourage you to check it out to learn more about this field and the passion that motivates one if its leading researchers.
Based on their thesis research in the Yager Lab, PhD candidates Carly Holstein and Gina Fridley teamed up with MBA candidates Alyssa Hochman, Jonny Holz, and Joel Loveday to develop a business plan for the Flu Finder diagnostic test. Flu Finder is a paper-based assay that aims to improve upon current flu diagnostics by providing a test that is accurate, inexpensive, and can be administered by anyone, anywhere, with results in less than 20 minutes. Flu Finder is envisioned to start as an improved test for use in the doctor's office, but aims to eventually be sold over the counter for use by the patient at home. The team competed in the University of Washington Business Plan Competition and placed 2nd out of 92 teams from across the state. Flu Finder also took home the Best Innovation prize. For the full story from the UW Department of Bioengineering, click here.
The Flu Finder team poses with their second place prize in the UW Business Plan Competition. From left to right: Carly Holstein (PhD candidate, Bioengineering), Alyssa Hochman (MBA candidate), Joel Loveday (MBA candidate), Gina Fridley (PhD candidate, Bioengineering), and Jonny Holz (MBA candidate).
Seattle Business Magazine recently honored our own Dr. Paul Yager as part of the magazine's 2014 Leaders in Health Care Awards. Dr. Yager was recognized for his "Achievement in Medical Devices," citing his work in paper-based diagnostics and the use of smartphones for analysis. The magazine writes, "That ability to cheaply bring the lab anywhere can benefit health care in the developing world and for soldiers in the field." Congratulations, Dr. Yager!
For more on the awards, check out this wonderful highlight video (Dr. Yager makes an appearance at 0:45):
In a recent issue of Lab on a Chip, renowned chemist and MF2.0 pioneer George Whitesides provided his "Viewpoint" on the use of sugar delays in paper-based tests. This sugar delay work, performed by our own Yager, Lutz, and Fu labs, was published in Lab on a Chip earlier this year and featured in our blog here. In his current "Viewpoint" article, Dr. Whitesides discusses the need for "simplicity in diagnostics" and commends Lutz et al.'s elegant approach to designing simple but automated paper diagnostics that are actually appropriate for point-of-care settings. He also praises the "quantitative engineering footing" on which the sugar delay work was based. While he notes that further development is of course needed to bring this technology to use, he asserts that this work is a step in the right direction for low-cost testing. Kudos to the authors of the work (Dr. Barry Lutz, Tinny Liang, Dr. Elain Fu, Sujatha Ramachandran, Peter Kauffman, and Dr. Paul Yager), and thank you to Dr. Whitesides for the kind words!
Professors Barry Lutz, Elain Fu, Paul Yager, and colleagues have published their work on sugar-based time delays for paper devices in the most recent issue of Lab on a Chip. This work describes the use of dissolvable sugar barriers to create and control fluidic time delays in paper microfluidic devices. This technique can be used to program multi-step assays that enable automated, easy-to-use paper diagnostic tests. What a “sweet” example of MF2.0!
I am excited to announce that our review article on nitrocellulose is now available in the latest issue of MRS Bulletin! This special issue is devoted to "Paper-Based Technology" and includes several great articles that highlight key aspects of this Microfluidics 2.0 technology! The article written by Gina Fridley, Shefali Oza, Paul Yager, and I describes "The Evolution of Nitrocellulose as a Material for Bioassays," including a brief history of the material, an overview of its physical properties, and considerations for assay development. Since nitrocellulose is one of the most common "paper" substrates for bioassays, we hope you will find this review useful!
Figure from our article illustrating (A) the porous nature of nitrocellulose, (B) the traditional use of nitrocellulose in a lateral flow test, and (C) the emerging use of nitrocellulose in MF2.0-based assays, such as 2DPNs. Fridley et al., MRS Bulletin 38 (4): 326-330 (April 2013).