Instead of having a blood test and giving a full vial of blood, this tiny device runs fifty different tests at once with just a single drop. The V-chip (volumetric bar-chart chip) was created by scientists at the Methodist Hospital Research Institute and MD Anderson Cancer Center. Preliminary tests of the device have been published by Nature Communications.
The V-chip could allow healthcare providers to test for insulin, cholesterol, and signs of infection all at the same time. These tests usually require large and complex equipment and must be carried out in a lab.
The pocket-sized V-chip is made of two thin pieces of glass with wells in between for four things: hydrogen peroxide, different antibodies and the enzyme catalase, serum, and a dye.
When these separate wells come into contact by shifting the glass, a zig-zagged space is created from one end of the V-chip to the other. As the substance of interest binds to antibodies, catalase is made active and splits nearby hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen gas. This approach is called ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay). The oxygen pushes the dye up the column, which demonstrates how much of the substance of interest is present in the blood sample. This results is a visual bar chart that is easy to read. The project’s principal investigator, Lidong Qin, Ph.D., said:
The V-Chip could make it possible to bring tests to the bedside, remote areas, and other types of point-of-care needs. V-Chip is accurate, cheap, and portable. It requires only a drop of a sample, not a vial of blood, and can do 50 different tests in one go… The sensitivity of the V-chip can be improved if narrower and longer bar channels are used. Our next steps are to make the device more user friendly and be so simple to use, it barely needs instructions.
You can watch the video below to see the V-chip in action: