A new barcode chip developed by a multi-institutional team of investigators promises to revolutionize diagnostic medical testing. In less than 10 minutes and using just a pinprick’s worth of blood, the chip can measure the concentrations of dozens of proteins, including those that herald the presence of diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
The device, known as the Integrated Blood-Barcode Chip (IBBC), was developed by members of the Nanosystems Biology Cancer Center, one of eight Centers of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence (CCNEs) funded by the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer initiative. This team was led James R. Heath, Ph.D., California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and Leroy Hood, M.D., Ph.D., Institute for Systems Biology. The group’s work was published in the journal Nature Biotechnology.
An IBBC is about the size of a microscope slide and is made out of a glass substrate covered with silicone rubber. The chip’s surface is molded to contain a microfluidics circuit. After a pinprick of blood is injected into this system of microscopic channels, the device separates the blood into protein-rich plasma and then measures a panel of protein biomarkers.