Rapid medical diagnostic system in Malaysia is in need of great attention. The currently available diagnostic tools in local hospitals, takes on the order of days to complete a simple blood test. Despite of the time taken, the tools come in a great deal of expense in costing and maintenance. Meanwhile, the current diagnostic methods are tedious, need high-level expertise and consume considerable amounts of expensive chemicals in sophisticated laboratories that are not available in many hospitals. In addition, the available equipment is often not integrated with intelligent computerized systems. This situation is an obvious drawback to a country where healthcare is listed as one of 12 National Key Economic Area (NKEA) which was established to kick-start the Economic Transformation Plan (ETP).
The solution seems to be enlightened with the technology of Biological Micro-Electro-Mechanical System (BioMEMS), in the development of novel, automated, compact-disc (CD) based platforms designed to perform rapid diagnose system and making molecular theranostics a reality. Using a combination of microfabrication and standard macro-machining processes, microfluicid CD platforms capable of performing ELISA assay will be designed, constructed and tested. The advantages are total analysis time would be reduced from days to minutes and because of the type and amount of materials used, the platforms will be also inexpensive. The system to-be-developed would meets the demands of the healthcare market of rapid diagnostic systems where it has capability to reduce the reagents and blood sample volumes from 100µL to 10µL. The diagnostic time also will be reduced from 3 hours to 30 minutes. This project aims to enhance to fundamental study of CD based microfluidic platform and introduce novel designs and applications for medical diagnostic system for disease.
Figure 1.(a) All the conventional laboratory works are designed in a form of compact disc (CD) (b) The CD only uses small volumes of both reagents and samples (10 µL).
Figure 2. Developed platforms in the forms of: (a) biochips, (b) microfibers and (c)microspheres for integration into CD microfluidic devices (S. Hosseini et al., 2014)
Figure 3. Overview of miniaturized wireless powering system for robotic capsule endoscopy: (a) schematic of the application model and (b) schematic of circuit model
Biomedical or Biological Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (BioMEMS) have become the focus of research for the last few decades because of their portability, reliability, cost effectiveness, sample/reagent volume reduction, and high-throughput detection compared to the traditional bench-top analytical devices. Currently, most of the laboratory tests and diagnostic tools are expensive, time consuming and they require high volume of analytical reagents. Therefore, our research is focused on employing the microfluidics technology to overcome those limitations.
Biomedical or Biological Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (BioMEMS) have become the focus of research for the last few decades because of their portability, reliability, cost effectiveness, sample/reagent volume reduction, and high-throughput detection compared to the traditional bench-top analytical devices. Therefore, the research members of Centre for Innovation in Medical Engineering (CIME) are focused on development of BioMEMS devices that increase the reliability and portability of the biomedical diagnostic tools. Under the UMRG program based grant-RP009-13AET, we have developed new methods and applications in different fields such as microfluidic platforms, polymeric biochips, tele-health systems, and wireless powering and sensing. Highlighted below are some examples of the accomplished and ongoing projects which have been conducted by the research team of CIME under the support of UMRG grant.
Microfludic Platforms for Medical Diagnostic Systems
Currently, most of the laboratory tests and diagnostic tools are expensive, time consuming and they require high volume of analytical reagents. Therefore, our research is focused on employing the microfluidics technology to overcome those limitations. Figure 1 shows the microfluidic compact disc (CD) device that has the potential to replace the bulky and expensive laboratory instruments. Our team members have successfully implemented the microfluidic CD to conduct the fundamental processes such as liquid pumping, valving, metering, and switching. In a more advanced implementation of the microfluidic CD, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for dengue fever detection has been successfully carried out. This implementation can dramatically improve the performance of the ELISA assay to be faster, cheaper, and portable for point of care (POC) applications. In the same way, the microfluidic CD can be employed to improve the performance of different diagnostic methods such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and loop mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP).
Novel Polymeric Platform for BioMEMS Diagnostic Applications
In order to commercialize our microfluidic CD as a practical choice for biomedical applications in real life, the compatibility and efficiency of the fabrication materials need to be improved. Therefore, our research team has developed a range of well-designed bio-receptor surfaces with high degree of control over surface properties. Such developed platforms which are aimed for integration into the microfluidic devices, remarkably enhance the detection signal. Figure 2 presents some examples of the developed platforms which can be classified as follows: polymeric biochips (Fig.2a), paper-based detection platforms (Fig.2b) and microspheres (Fig.2c). The developed bio-receptors have enhanced the detection signal for dengue virus detection up to ~6 times, ~10 times and ~15 times higher than conventional ELISA, respectively. Integration of developed platforms into the microfluidic devices reduced the time of incubation from average 2 hours to 5 minutes while the sample volumes were reduced from 200 ml in conventional ELISA to 30 ml in the microfluidic system. These results are promising in order to achieve early detection results.
Miniaturized Wireless Power Transfer System for Implantable Medical Devices
The implementation of BioMEMS based medical devices requires an external power source for their operations, in which internal batteries are typically employed. However, these batteries can increase the overall size of the device and often the battery needs to be replaced after some time. In certain applications, the replacement of the battery requires post-surgery which incurs additional risk and trauma for the patient. Other techniques such as the use of piezoelectric effects, thermal effects or nano-batteries may not provide sufficient energy to the BioMEMS devices. To overcome these limitations, there is a need to investigate other techniques such as miniaturized wireless power transfer as to provide a reliable means of power supply. Conventional approaches of wireless power transfer require the use of bulky coils. We are currently investigating novel techniques of miniaturizing wireless power transfer system (Figure 3) that will not only provide reliable and efficient power for BioMEMS sensors/devices but would also greatly reduce the overall space requirements.
Principle Investigator: Professor Ir. Dr. Fatimah Ibrahim
Department of Biomedical Engineering
Faculty of Engineering
University of Malaya
Tel: 03 7967 6818
Fax: 03 7967 4579
Sub-Programme 1 Leader: Prof. Ir. Dr. Fatimah Ibrahim
(Title: Microfludic Platforms for Medical Diagnostic Systems)
Sub-Programme 2 Leader: Associate Prof. Dr. Norhayati Soin
(Title: CMOS MEMS Capacitive Tactile Sensors for Blood Flow Monitoring)
Sub-Programme 3 Leader: Dr. Mas Sahidayana Mokhtar
(Title: The Application of Telehealth-Diagnostic BioMEMS Sensor for Disease Detection and Management)
Sub-Programme 4 Leader: Dr. Mohd Yazed Ahmad
(Title: Miniaturized Wireless Power Transfer (WPT) System for BioMEMS Sensors)
Sub-Programme 5 Leader: Dr. Farina Muhamad
(Title: Novel Polymeric Detection Platform for BioMEMS Diagnostics Application)