Project Lead(s): Hongshen Ma
Changes in blood cell counts and the physical properties of blood cells can be used to screen for a wide range of diseases.
In the developed world, this can be measured using automated hematology analyzers but this capability is currently unavailable in developing regions because these instruments cost more than $50,000 and require the infrastructure to support a laboratory.
The project aimed to develop a low-cost and portable hematology analyzer as a screening tool for diseases, including parasitic infections, micronutrient deficiency and hemoglobinopathies.
The project team managed to optimize the different components that are necessary to develop a working prototype of a multiplex point-of-care device.
They developed a microfluidic device for multiplexed analysis of red blood cells and supportive instrumentation to control and operate the device, including a pressure control apparatus and computer vision software.
The device was evaluated using oxidatively-damaged red blood cells and compared favourably to more expensive technologies.
The next step will be to integrate the supporting instrumentation into a portable, battery-powered analysis system to field test the technology.
Support from Grand Challenges Canada enabled the team to also initiate a research program in malaria.
The research was able to recruit scientists with the right expertise to dramatically accelerate progress of the project and maintain them after the grant period with funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).