Brigham Young University researchers have designed a small chip, an integrated microfluidic device that can predict preterm birth with 90 percent accuracy.
Mukul Sonker, a Ph.D student at BYU chemistry who is also the lead author of this study said, “It is like we are compressing a complete lab and placing it into a small microchip.”
The device requires just a finger-prick’s amount of blood to assess a set of nine identified preterm birth biomarkers. There is no biomarker-based diagnosis for preterm births at the moment. Adam Woolley, BYU chemistry professor and co author of the study said that, “Preterm birth symptom is a woman going into labor and at that time you are taking care of the result rather than preparing for it.”
Preterm Birth Predictions
Woolley’s wife started having contractions prematurely in her third trimester with their oldest child. Hospital treatment helped her stop contractions and she carried their son full-term. Woolley mentions that “Ours was merely a glimpse into preterm birth problems; however it is good to know that I and my research students could help people regarding this health issue.”
Front end of the process still needs some work to be done; however for this study, Woolley, Sonker with the help of BYU post-docs Vishal Sahore and Radim Knob developed this chip and a system which can preconcentrate and separate biomarkers in it. Sonker emphasized that “This is crucial, as when you assess these peptides and proteins they are found in lesser amount, though if you pre-concentrate them on the chip, you can get adequate information for predicting preterm birth.”
The device is highly economical and it is also fast and small. Woolley said that, “When it is completely developed, detecting biomarkers will be an easy automated task. A large number of babies who are born on preterm birth don’t survive, if we might help them to live and thrive, it would be a great help to humanity.”
Written by Lax Mariappan MSc