Range of biomedical and other analytical research and experiments which generally performed in a controlled condition for scientific experiments, research and diagnosis or measurement. Lab-on-a-chip (LOC) denotes to technologies which permit these experiments and analysis on a very miniaturized scale, within a portable or handheld device. LOC has various beneficial aspects to operating on this scale. Analysis of samples can take place in situ, helps in performing analysis on-the-spot instead of transporting samples to a lab facility.
Instead of the ‘traditional’ silicon chip from electronics. LOC devices, or chips, can be made-up from different kinds of material including several polymers (acrylic, polycarbonate, polyester etc.), glass, or silicon, as well as amalgamations of these materials.
LOC systems has been used for several purposes in Biotechnology sector e.g. In Lab automation, medical diagnostics etc. LOC made easy measurement of fluid flow in small channels with flow control devices like channels, pumps etc. The differences in fluid dynamics on a very minor scale mean that it is easier to regulate the movement and interaction of samples, making reactions much more efficient, and reducing chemical waste.
LOC also capable of sensing abilities with typically optical or electrochemical sensors are often integrated into the chip.
Some Important biological, chemical, medical, environmental and energy applications of LOC are-
- Medical diagnostics (for example molecular and immunology based).
- Medical devices and treatments (including implantable and wireless).
- Drug development (screening and delivery).
- Cells, tissues, organs on chip and integrated tissue engineering.
- 3D cell culture.
- Single cell analysis.
- Nucleic acid sequencing and analysis and in genetic engineering..
- Protein analysis.
- Cell and organism motility and interactions.
- Systems and synthetic biology and medicine.
- Energy, biofuels, fuel extraction.
- Environmental and food monitoring for health and security.
- Micro separation technologies (molecular and cellular sorting).
- Digital microfluidics.Sample preparation.
- Imaging and detection.
Future advancements in lab-on-a-chip technology will always depend on at least two major scientific disciplines – microfluidics, and molecular biology. Nanotechnology will be a key factor in binding these two fields together as the technology progresses. In development of a lab-on-a-chip device, the main challenges are design and fabrication of device on a very small measure which are cost effective and functional.
Dr Vikas Bishnoi:AVP and Solution Architect-Biotechnology in Mobiloitte. Vikas is a Scientist, eternal Academician. After decade of research experience, he has now set his sights on Digital and IoT solutions in Biotechnology.