A mobile diagnostic platform is currently being developed in Leipzig to speed up the diagnosis of sepsis in the hope of increasing survival rates.
MinoLab consists of a credit-card-sized plastic card that is inserted into a small analysis unit and can be used to provide a diagnosis in less than an hour, as a patient is being transported to hospital.
The system is based on magnetic particles that dock onto the cells to be studied in a blood sample and run through the system fully automatically with magnetic force. At the end of the process, the diagnosis is made with magnetic sensors.
The Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology (IZI) is working on MinoLab, in collaboration with Magna Diagnostics, a company hived off from the Fraunhofer Society.
Other project partners include the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration (IZM) in Berlin, as well as Siemens, Dice, microfluidic ChipShop and the Austrian Institute of Technology.
Commenting on the project, Dr Dirk Kuhlmeier, a scientist at the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology, said: ’All reactions starting from sample preparation through isolating the target molecules right down to documentation are carried out without any contact and fully automatically.’
This, according to Dr Kuhlmeier, means that routine operation is made much simpler for the laboratory technician and reduces the risk of contamination from bacteria introduced from the environment that set off ’false alarms’.
A prototype of the platform is due to be produced in around two years and it is hoped that it will also be suitable for answering a wide range of molecular biological issues, ranging from genetic predisposition down to cancer diagnostics.