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National Lab Seeks Commercial Partner for Diagnostics Tool

SpinDx device (Sandia National Lab)

SpinDx device (Sandia National Lab)

Sandia National Lab in Livermore, California is seeking a partner to commercialize its desktop medical diagnostics technology that the lab says is faster, less expensive, and more versatile than current diagnostics tools. The SpinDx, as it is known (pictured left), can tell in minutes a patient’s white blood cell count, analyze important protein markers, and process up to 64 assays from a single sample. Sandia Lab is part of the U.S. Department of Energy.

The device uses a spinning disk, much like a CD player, to test a small sample of the patient’s blood. The disks that cost pennies to make contain commercially available reagents and antibodies specific to each protein marker. Results from the SpinDx can be delivered to the physician’s computer in 15 minutes.

The technology is based centrifugal microfluidics, which uses centrifugal forces to manipulate samples and reagents through microfluidic channels implanted on the disks. Miniaturized fluorescence optics are used for detection. Samples are self-collected and loaded onto the device using standard capillary collection tubes. Wireless data transmission can be added for remote and point-of-care testing applications.

Anup Singh, manager of Sandia’s biotechnology and bioengineering department, expects diagnostic disks can be tailored for specific kinds of medical tests, such as for cardiac disorders or immune diseases. He says heart attacks, strokes, infections, and some cancers could be detected days or weeks sooner than they are today, with no new burdens placed on patients or their doctors.

The SpinDx has also been adapted to test for food safety tests, under an NIH grant to adapt the lab-on-a-disk platform for toxin diagnostics, including detection of the botulinum toxin. The botulinum toxin is one of the most toxic substances known; a miniscule quantity can deliver a lethal dose. But despite scientific advances, an assay using laboratory mice remains the only reliable way to test for botulism.

Greg Sommer, who led development of the project at Sandia says, “Our SpinDx botulinum assay vastly outperformed the mouse bioassay in head-to-head tests, and requires absolutely no animal testing. Plus there are a lot of cost and speed advantages.”

The team is developing a deployable prototype to run the assays, with the goal of a fully integrated, automated device for field testing. Sandia Lab officials are seeking industry partners to license and commercialize the SpinDx technology for the marketplace.

Anup Singh narrates the following video with a demonstration of the SpinDx.

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