Tag Archives: tuberculosis

Acoustofluidics and lab-on-a-chip for asthma and tuberculosis diagnostics

This is my first exposure to acoustofluidics (although it’s been around for a few years) and it concerns lab-on-a-chip diagnostics for asthma and tuberculosis. From an Aug. 3, 2015 news item on Azonano,

A device to mix liquids utilizing ultrasonics is the first and most difficult component in a miniaturized system for low-cost analysis of sputum from patients with pulmonary diseases such as tuberculosis and asthma.

The device, developed by engineers at Penn State in collaboration with researchers at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health, and the Washington University School of Medicine, will benefit patients in the U.S., where 12 percent of the population, or around 19 million people, have asthma, and in undeveloped regions where TB is still a widespread and often deadly contagion.

“To develop more accurate diagnosis and treatment approaches for patients with pulmonary diseases, we have to analyze sample cells directly from the lungs rather than by drawing blood,” said Tony Jun Huang, professor of engineering science and mechanics at Penn State and the inventor, with his group, of this and other acoustofluidic devices based on ultrasonic waves. “For instance, different drugs are used to treat different types of asthma patients. If you know what a person’s immunophenotype is, you can provide personalized medicine for their particular disease.

A July 29, 2015 Pennsylvania State University news release, which originated the news item, describes the disadvantages of the current sputum analyses techniques and explains how this new technique in an improvement,

There are several issues with the current standard method for sputum analysis. The first is that human specimens can be contagious, and sputum analysis requires handling of specimens in several discrete machines. With a lab on a chip device, all biospecimens are safely contained in a single disposable component.

Another issue is the sample size required for analysis in the current system, which is often larger than a person can easily produce. The acoustofluidic sputum liquefier created by Huang’s group requires 100 times less sample while still providing accuracy equivalent to the standard system.

A further issue is that current systems are difficult to use and require trained operators. With the lab on a chip system, a nurse can operate the device with a touch of a few buttons and get a read out, or the patient could even operate the device at home. In addition, the disposable portion of the device should cost less than a dollar to manufacture.

Po-Hsun Huang, a graduate student in the Huang group and the first author on the recent paper describing the device in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Lab on a Chip, said “This will offer quick analysis of samples without having to send them out to a centralized lab. While I have been working on the liquefaction component of the device, my lab mates are working on the flow cytometry analysis component, which should be ready soon. This is the first on-chip sputum liquefier anyone has developed.”

Stewart J. Levine, a Senior Investigator and Chief of the Laboratory of Asthma and Lung Inflammation in the Division of Intramural Research at NHLBI, said “This on-chip sputum liquefier is a significant advance regarding our goal of developing a point-of-care diagnostic device that will determine the type of inflammation present in the lungs of asthmatics. This will allow health care providers to individualize asthma treatments for each patient and advance the goal of bringing precision medicine into clinical practice.”

Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

An acoustofluidic sputum liquefier by Po-Hsun Huang, Liqiang Ren, Nitesh Nama, Sixing Li, Peng Li, Xianglan Yao, Rosemarie A. Cuento, Cheng-Hsin Wei, Yuchao Chen, Yuliang Xie, Ahmad Ahsan Nawaz, Yael G. Alevy, Michael J. Holtzman, J. Philip McCoy, Stewart J. Levine, and  Tony Jun Huang. Lab Chip, 2015,15, 3125-3131 DOI: 10.1039/C5LC00539F

First published online 17 Jun 2015

This is an open access paper but you do need to register for a free (British) Royal Society of Chemistry publishing personal account.

Zimbabwe’s plans for nanotechnology-enabled drug treatments for tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS

It’s a big gamble for a country that has a relatively small national budget but Zimbabwe is focusing a significant chunk of its science funding to nanotechnology-enabled drug treatments according to the Dec. 11, 2012 news article by Munyaradzi Makoni for scidev.net,

The Zimbabwean government has shown signs of embracing nanotechnology, earmarking it for extensive funding from the science ministry’s 2013 budget for new programmes.

According to Rungano Karimanzira, director of commercialisation of research and development at the ministry, 60 per cent of the new programme funding has been allocated to nanotechnology — a move announced with the unveiling of the national budget last month (16 November).

After years of political instability and international isolation, Zimbabwe now aims to revive science and use nanotechnology to research and produce drugs, particularly treatments for tuberculosis (TB) and HIV/AIDS.

Clive Mphambela’s Nov. 16, 2012 article for the Zimbabwe Independent (accessed Dec. 13, 2012 from The Zimbabwe Situation) describes the country’s 2013 budget and Zimbabwe’s economic situation,

FINANCE Minister Tendai Biti yesterday presented a paltry US$3,8 billion
“developmental budget”, describing it as the most difficult to construct in
the short life of the inclusive government.

Biti’s budget is smaller than South Africa’s retail chain supermarket group,
Pick n Pay whose average annual turnover is R55,3 billion (US$6,1 billion).

However, he said numerous downside risks, including potential political
instability, threatened his budget.

Biti said the multitude of challenges facing the economy required a
fundamental re-think of the state, economics and development in Zimbabwe.

“In this regard, the 2013 national budget seeks to offer leadership and
direction on the bold structural measures that must be taken to unleash
Zimbabwe’s growth potential in pursuit of the MTP’s [Medium Term Plan] vision of constructing a
modern democratic developmental state,” said Biti.

The Finance minister proposed a 15-point roadmap which would in the
short-term seek to reverse the current slow-down and refocus the economy on
a higher growth trajectory.

Even before the 2013 budget was announced, Zimbabwe’s national nanotechnology programme was making news (from the Makoni article),

The country’s first national nanotechnology programme was launched in October by science and technology development minister Heneri Dzinotyiwei during the opening of the Zimbabwe Nanotechnology Centre (ZINC) at the University of Zimbabwe in Harare.

Dzinotyiwei said the programme will focus on developing medicinal drugs, and will identify and undertake studies in nanomedicine geared towards bringing benefits to the entire country.

“We hope that we can ultimately dedicate around US$1 million to the nanotechnology programme,” he said.

ZINC and its nanomedicine-focused partnership with the University of Zimbabwe, the University of Buffalo and Chinhoyi University of Technology was mentioned here in a Sept. 24, 2012 posting.