A DIY Lab On A Chip: But When?
Soon, they say, a "Lab On A Chip In A Kit" will be available for home use so that we can test ourselves for certain illnesses. Also, we'll be able to check a chicken breast for salmonella and test the air for toxins. It's doable, but will it be available to help the boomer generation?
Lab On Chip (LOC) is a device that combines several laboratory functions onto one single chip, capable of testing micro and nano particles for diseases, toxins, and just about anything internal or external to us. LOC's are used in several fields, but as medical devices they are the future.
The LOC has to be programmed by specially trained engineers, but once the programming is accomplished, the Lab On A Chip In A Kit can be used by anyone, according to Mark Burns, a professor in the departments of Biomedical Engineering and Chemical Engineering at the University of Michigan. Burns developed the new medical device with graduate student Minsoung Rhee.
Currently the micro-lab device is being adapted for field use by professionals, especially those who work in impoverished countries where access to full scale medical test equipment is minimal to non-existent. Though Burns has figured out the technology for his medical lab on chip, there are several other issues to be resolved to make the Lab On A Chip In A Kit ready for distribution. But not decades!
For boomers and others who might benefit from the lower costs of medical testing, convenience, and immediacy of results that the Lab On A Chip In A Kit would offer, Burns suggests it will be decades before the rest of us will be "analyzing chicken to see if it has salmonella, analyzing yourself to see if you have influenza or analyzing the air to see if it has noxious elements in it."
Why decades to get to us, when the technology is there now to make it happen? And not just the ability to check chickens and flu viruses... LOC technology can already detect cancer cells and other very serious diseases in a matter of seconds. Will we benefit from home use of this technology?
The capability is here.
Keeping you posted...