Friday, February 26, 2010

Portable Lab-on-a-Chip for On-the-Spot Blood Analysis Can Predict Risk of Excessive or Ineffective Blood Clotting

RMIT University is leading the development of a portable device for on-the-spot blood analysis, enabling doctors to accurately predict a patient’s risk of excessive or ineffective blood clotting.

Photo sows the original micro device developed for the blood clotting research, which mimics the shape of diseased or damaged blood vessels.
Image credit: RMIT

Professor Arnan Mitchell, from the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is leading the team working on the “lab-on-a-chip” project, in close collaboration with Dr Warwick Nesbitt and Professor Shaun Jackson from the Australian Centre for Blood Diseases (ACBD) at Monash University.

The project team was recently awarded a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Development Grant of $267,750 to advance the project over the next two years.

Professor Mitchell, a key researcher in the RMIT Platform Technologies Research Institute, said the project was a strategic collaboration between microtechnology researchers at RMIT and biomedical experts at the ACBD, located in The Alfred Hospital.

“We’re aiming to lever the ACBD’s recent biomedical insight into the role that mechanical shear stress dynamics play in blood clotting, in combination with RMIT’s micro-engineering design, fabrication and system integration expertise,” he said.

“By bringing these two elements together, we hope to realise a new diagnostic platform that can be used by a large cross-section of the medical community outside the laboratory.”

Professor Mitchell worked with PhD candidate Francisco Tovar to design the world-first micro device that enabled Monash researchers to discover a new way that blood clots can form, in a major breakthrough published last year in the prestigious Nature Medicine journal.

The new NHMRC project will use that technology to develop a microfluidic chip and a low-cost “chip reader” to enable the tool to be operated at the point of care, with only basic training.

“The lab-on-a-chip platform will help medical practitioners better predict which patients have increased risk of either suffering blood clots or heomorrhaging during surgery,” Professor Mitchell said.

Professor Jackson, from the ACBD, highlighted the significance of the project: “Blood clotting diseases affect more than half of Australia’s adult population – killing one Australian nearly every 10 minutes – so this device has the potential to have a significant impact on mortality rates.”

The NRMRC Development Grant scheme provides funding for the commercialisation of health and medical research projects.

Other RMIT academics will also advance medical research at the University, after recently being awarded grants by the Heart Foundation.

A two-year $120,500 research grant was awarded to Professor John Hawley, Head of the Exercise Metabolism Research Group and project leader in the RMIT Health Innovations Research Institute, for the project, Preventing diabetes-induced vascular disease.

The Discipline Head of Laboratory Medicine in the School of Medical Sciences, Professor Denise Jackson, received a $129,000 research grant for her project, Contact-dependent control of thrombus growth.

Professor Jackson also recently received a research grant from the Rebecca Cooper Foundation for the project,Stabilisation of Blood Clots – Implications for cerebral ischaemic stroke, and has been supported with funds from the William Angliss Charitable Trust for the purchase of new equipment to advance the University's cardiovascular research program.

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