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IBM Creates POC Diagnostic Test

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IBM scientists have created a one-step point-of-care-diagnostic test, based on an innovative silicon chip, that requires less sample volume, is significantly faster, portable, easy-to-use, and can test for many diseases, including cardiovascular disease. The results are so quick and accurate that a small sample of a patient’s serum or blood, could be tested immediately following a heart attack, to enable the doctor to quickly take a course of action to help the patient survive.

The diagnostic test uses capillary forces to analyse tiny samples of serum, or blood, for the presence of disease markers, which are typically proteins that can be detected in people’s blood for diagnostic purposes.

IBM scientists have encoded the forces of capillary action on a microfluidic chip made of a silicon compound, similar to those used in computer chips, thus leveraging IBM’s vast experience in developing and manufacturing silicon semiconductor wafers. The chip, which measures 1 x 5 centimeters, contains sets of micrometer wide channels where the test sample flows through in approximately 15 seconds, several times faster then traditional tests. Uniquely, the filling speed can be adjusted to several minutes when the chip requires additional time to read a more complex disease marker.

IBM scientists designed the chip with flexibility in mind in both its form and uses. Due to its small size the chip can be embedded in several types of form factors, depending on the application, including a credit card, a pen or something similar to a pregnancy test. Besides diagnosing diseases, the test is also flexible enough to test for chemical and bio hazards.

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