A university spin-off has developed a patented laser-based approach for patterning of porous substrates within a lateral-flow test for medical diagnostics applications. By careful control of the patterning process parameters such as writing speeds and laser power, flow control mechanisms can be introduced to produce a multichannel lateral flow tests that allows the detection of multiple diseases or conditions within a single test kit. The flow control approach also helps improve the limit-of-detection and sensitivity of lateral flow tests, both of which are key requirements for use of these tests in any diagnostics sensing.
Moreover, with the unique patterning, the test kit can also provide a semi-quantification of the analytes present. This is in contrast with common lateral flow devices such as pregnancy test kits which provides no quantification of analyte concentration and is only applicable for only a single condition. The initial target applications for this test kit are for tuberculosis, dementia, parasitic disease, and bacterial detection.
Typical lateral flow devices give only a simple yes or no indication, only detect a single disease or condition at any point in time and are generally, not very sensitive.
Compared with these devices, this spin-off’s patented technology allows for the development of a multi-channel, highly sensitive and semi-quantitative detection device. This technology has wide material compatibility and can be used for the patterning of any porous material, from paper to fabric. In addition, this technology allows for the low cost and efficient patterning process, yet, retains its high patterning resolution of approximately 250µm. It is also suitable for rapid prototyping and mass production.
With unique patterning of structures in the device, no sample preparation is required. Only a single drop of blood is required for a simple detection of multiple diseases in a single device. Semi-quantitative results can be obtained within 5-10 minutes. The prototype has been preliminarily tested in pre-clinical trials for detection of Tuberculosis and parasitic disease such as Leishmaniasis. It has also been validated for infection testing of Dementia patients.
In addition, this laser-patterning technology is equally applicable for creating lab-on-chip like microfluidic devices on porous paper and paper-like materials for other sensing applications. For example, the spin-off has also developed a single paper-based prototype that both identifies bacterial pathogens, and also their resistance to antibiotics.
According to Markets and Markets, the global in vitro diagnostics market is expected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 5.2% to USD 68.12 billion by 2023. The market for lateral flow assays, a subset of in vitro diagnostics, is also expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.7% to reach USD 8.7 billion by 2023.