University of California Center for Accelerated Innovation
News : UC CAI Stimulus Awardee Dino Di Carlo’s Medical Microchip Featured in Nature Magazine

UC CAI Stimulus Awardee Dino Di Carlo’s Medical Microchip Featured in Nature Magazine



UCLA CAI News Archive

In the May 25, 2017 issue of Nature, UC CAI Stimulus awardee Dr. Dino Di Carlo and his work on medical microchips was highlighted in the magazine’s technology feature.

“The bioengineers in Dino Di Carlo's lab at the University of California, Los Angeles, spend a lot of time wrapped in head-to-toe suits and looking a bit jaundiced. The engineers work in a clean room, where a steady flow of filtered air removes particulates. Blue or purple light would harden the photosensitive material with which they work, so they limit lighting in the room to butter-yellow.

They and others in the field are building tools for preparing and analysing blood and other fluid samples to diagnose genetic anomalies, such as the mutations carried by cancer cells. Few such tools require a clean room, but these ones depend on the ability of fluids to travel through channels so small that even one speck of dust could block them — a field of technology development called microfluidics. In theory, these assays, encapsulated in chips the size of a microscope slide, could allow for rapid and automatic diagnosis: sample in, answer out; so easy that a novice could use it. In practice, the devices rarely work this way, and usually, some pre-processing of the sample is required.

Researchers such as Di Carlo are working to address those shortcomings, making the chips easier to manufacture and experimenting with materials and designs. They are tackling challenges such as predicting the behaviour of fluids in small places, and determining how to make the chips both effective and affordable. Solving these problems requires an interdisciplinary approach, notes Amy Shen, a chemical engineer at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University in Japan. The payoff could run from cost and time savings in the lab to medical devices that speed diagnosis of genetic and infectious diseases.”

Read the full article here.