Researchers at KU Leuven (Belgium) have developed a 3D printing technology that expands the possibilities of immunochromatography. These tests are widespread in the form of classic pregnancy tests and COVID-19 self-tests. New printing technology allows you to create advanced diagnostic tests that are fast, cheap, and easy to use.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone recognized the importance of rapid diagnosis. In Belgium, self-tests are allowed to be sold in pharmacies from the end of March. This self-test is so-called immunochromatography. Use a wiper to take a sample through the nose. Then dissolve it in a solvent and apply it to the test kit. The absorbent material in the kit moves the sample downstream and brings it into contact with the antibody. If a virus is present, a colored line will be displayed. The advantage of these tests is that they are cheap and do not require special appliances.
The immunoflow test is useful for simple tests that give a “yes” and “no” answer, but not for tests that require a multi-step protocol. That’s why KU Ruben’s bioengineers have embarked on the development of a new type of immunochromatography with more features.
Researchers used a 3D printer to create a 3D version of immunochromatography. Basically, it is a small block of porous polymer with “ink” with specific properties printed in the correct position. In this way, a network of channels and small “locks” is printed, allowing or blocking the flow where and when it is needed, without the need for moving parts. During the test, the sample is automatically guided through various test steps. That way, even complex protocols can be followed.
Researchers evaluated the technique of reproducing the ELISA test (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) used to detect immunoglobulin E (IgE). Ig E is measured to diagnose allergies. In the lab, this test requires several steps, with different rinsing and acidity changes. The research team was able to run the entire protocol using a printed test kit that was the size of a thick credit card.
Complexity is not cost
“The great thing about 3D printing is that you can quickly adapt your test design to support different protocols, such as detecting cancer biomarkers. For 3D printers, how complex the network of channels is. It doesn’t matter, “says Dr. Cesar Para. 3D printing technology is also affordable and scalable. “In our lab, it costs about $ 1.50 to create an Ig E prototype test, but if we can scale it up, it’s less than $ 1,” says Dr. Parra. This technology provides cheaper and faster diagnostic opportunities not only in developed countries, but also in countries where access to medical infrastructure is difficult and affordable diagnostic tests are strongly sought after.
The research group is currently designing their own 3D printer. This is more flexible than the commercial model used in current research. “Optimized printers are like mobile mini-factory that can quickly generate diagnostics. Then you can create different types of tests by simply loading different design files and inks. Diagnostic challenges and applications. We would like to continue our research with the help of our partners, “concludes Bart van Duffel, Innovation Manager.
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Clement Achille et al, 3D Printing of Diagnostic Monolithic Capillary Driven Microfluidic Devices, Advanced material (2021). DOI: 10.1002 / adma.202008712
Quote: 3D printing is a new range of diagnostic tests obtained on May 10, 2021 from https: //medicalxpress.com/news/2021-05-3d-foundation-range-diagnostic.html (May 10, 2021) Lay the foundation for the day).
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3D printing lays the foundation for a new range of diagnostic tests
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