Microfluidic Device Launched to Treat Sepsis within Minutes

A novel sensor device designed by MIT researchers known as Microfluidic device launched to treat sepsis in minutes.

MIT scientists have developed a compact experimental diagnostic device – working with less than a finger-prick of blood, it points clinically significant IL-6 concentrations within 25 minutes. It identifies by utilising loop-shaped microfluidic channels.

In one of those channels, the blood is mixed with magnetic microbeads that are coated with an antibody which binds with IL-6. After about 10 minutes, all of the IL-6 protein present in the sample bound with some of the beads.

The blood mixture is then pumped into another channel, where there's an electrode that's coated with another type of IL-6-binding antibody. After a further 10 minutes of circulating within that channel, it washes the untethered beads, while the ones with IL-6 protein remain on the electrode.

When voltage is subsequently applied within the channel via the electrode, one electrical signal is produced by each bead. By counting those signals, a linked computer can determine the concentration of IL-6 within the sample.

As opposed to the 5 microliters of blood required by the device, a traditional blood assay machine needs 100 microliters to accurately detect IL-6 – it also takes hours to deliver a result, and it is bulky and expensive. Other faster, more portable detectors have been developed, but many of them are costly, as they use the most precise optical components.

The device design has eight separate microfluidics channels to measure as different biomarkers or blood samples in parallel. Different antibodies and enzymes can be used in separate channels to detect different biomarkers or different antibodies. It can be used on the same channel to detect several biomarkers simultaneously.

The scientists are now working to create a panel of important sepsis biomarkers for the device to capture, including interleukin-6, interleukin-8, C-reactive protein, and procalcitonin.

Sepsis occurs when the body’s immune response to infection triggers an inflammation chain reaction throughout the body, causing a high heart rate, high fever, shortness of breath, and other issues.