In order to diagnose different diseases (including sepsis, tuberculosis or some immunodeficiency disorders) quickly and even before the manifestation of symptoms, researchers at the Center for Research and Advanced Studies of the National Polytechnic Institute (CINVESTAV) developed micro-devices that use as biomarkers the proteins generated by the cells of the immune system when they come into contact with harmful agents, such pathogenic bacteria.
Roberto Rodríguez Moncayo, a student, seeks to optimize these micro-devices, for which he received the Widmer Prize for the best poster presentation during the International Conference on Miniaturized Systems for Chemistry and Life Sciences (MicroTAS 2019).
These micro-devices react to a sample of cells of a person if finds a harmful pathogen, such as tuberculosis bacteria; and determines the type and quantity of the pathogen. In addition, micro-devices also have potential applications in the pharmaceutical industry, including analyzing whether a drug produces an adverse effect in the body, by identifying if proinflammatory proteins are generated.
The devices, which at the moment have been tested at the laboratory, are made of a biocompatible polymer with the organism, for its elaboration computer chip manufacturing techniques were used that allow having micrometric size structures (one micrometer is equivalent to the thousandth part of a millimeter).
In each of these devices, it is possible to carry out up to four tests with different reagents and, being of such small dimensions, the quantity of samples and reagents needed decreases.
In the micro-devices developed by Rodríguez Moncayo, under the advice of CINVESTAV researcher José Luis García Cordero, the characterization and quantification of the proteins produced by the cells in each test is carried out; which is usually done separately through macroscale methods, such as the ELISA test —a laboratory test used to detect proteins (antibodies) produced by the body against a harmful agent.
So the integration into the same device of the whole process translates into the reduction of the time of each experiment. Thus, the next step, said the PhD student, would be to take the micro-device to a clinical environment and to think about patenting this technology in the future.
The twenty-third edition of MicroTAS was held in the city of Basel, Switzerland from October 27 to 31, 2019 and brought together more than 900 scientists from around the world involved in the use of integrated microsystems and nanotechnology. The Widmer Prize, sponsored by Lab on a Chip and The Chemical and Biological Microsystems Society, recognizes the excellence of the works presented at the MicroTAS poster session.
Rodríguez Moncayo said winning the price means a great achievement because it is the first time that a Mexican laboratory has been recognized at the MicroTAS international conference.
Source: Conexion Cinvestav