Hand-held lab helps spot DVT

Portable blood-analysis device enables DVT diagnosis in minutes

Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM are taking part in work that aims to develop a portable blood laboratory integrated into smart plastics.

Fraunhofer and other members of the DVT-Imp project, which is part-funded by the EC, are working on a device that can rapidly analyse a single drop of blood to diagnose thrombosis.

According to Fraunhofer, the unique aspect of this device lies in its inexpensive fabrication from polymer electronics – or polytronics – that combine functional materials and electronics.

The core of the device, which was developed at IZM, is a small single-use cartridge that acts as a tool for the biochemical analysis of blood.

It consists of a 3 x 22 x 70mm polycarbonate plate and combines a 150-micrometre-thick foil, on which a filigree network with conductor lines and gold sensors for analysis is attached, plus a 120-micrometre-deep fluid channel for conducting blood to the analysis elements.

Inside the sensor chamber, the antibodies are integrated on electrodes, aiding the analysis of blood-clotting markers.

The technology is contained in a hand-held device that can analyse a blood sample within minutes, while traditional techniques could take days to determine whether a potentially fatal clot is forming.

’In a networked world, oriented towards people, inexpensive, multifunctional systems are needed.’ said Prof Karlheinz Bock, head of the Polytronic Systems division at IZM. ’Electronic systems have to be produced in large quantities, in a cost-effective manner on large substrates. And with polymer electronics, this would be perfectly possible.’

The project to determine the feasibility of the device is due to run until the middle of this year.