Transposing lateral flow immunoassays to capillary-driven microfluidics using self-coalescence modules and capillary-assembled receptor carriers
Point-of-care (POC) immunodiagnostic tests play a crucial role in enabling rapid and correct diagnosis of diseases in prehospital care, emergency, and remote settings. In this work, we present a silicon-based, capillary-driven microfluidic chip integrating two microfluidic modules for the implementation of highly miniaturized immunoassays. Specifically, we apply state-of-the-art microfluidic technology to demonstrate a one-step immunoassay for the detection of the cardiac marker troponin I in human serum using sample volumes of ∼1 μL and with a limit of detection (LOD) of ∼4 ng mL-1 within 25 min. The microfluidic modules discussed here broadly map functionalities found in standard lateral flow assays. We implement a self-coalescence module (SCM) for the controlled reconstitution and delivery of inkjet-spotted and dried detection antibodies (dAbs). This allows for homogeneous dissolution of 1.3 ng of fluorescently labeled dAbs in 416 nL of the sample used for the assay. We also show how to immobilize receptors inside closed microfluidic devices in <30 s using bead lane modules inside which microbeads functionalized with capture antibodies (cAbs) are self-assembled. The resulting bead lane module, with a volume of ∼3 × 10-5 mm3, is positioned across the flow path and holds ∼300 5 μm-diameter microbeads. Altogether, these capillary-driven elements allow for the manipulation of samples and reagents with an unprecedented precision and control, paving the way for the next generation of POC immunodiagnostics.