LIBNA, the Laboratory of Integrated Biomedical Micro/Nanotechnology & Applications, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has created microfluidic biochips requiring a mere 11μL of blood to return counts of white blood cells (WBCs), red blood cells (RBCs) and platelets – without the need for trained professionals and in 20 minutes flat. The results, obtained by electrical cell counting, are comparable to those of traditional, commercially available blood analyzers.
Certain diseases and conditions may be indicated by abnormal WBC counts (leukemia, inflammation); others by altered RBC numbers (cancer, mechanical trauma); still others by unusual platelet results (lymphoma, lupus). All of these measurements can be made by LIBNA’s biochip, requiring only simple manipulations like diluting blood in buffer solution.
The trouble with traditional systems for complete blood counts is that the patient must be able to travel to a major facility equipped with the necessary, expensive hematology analyzer. Without a doubt, a portable, point-of-care blood cell counter, designed for use by non-specialists, would revolutionize care in a variety of situations, from basic screening at a routine office visit to quicker, life-saving care in the ER.