Continuous-flow, microfluidic, qRT-PCR system for RNA virus detection

17.11.2017

Published in Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry Journal

© Photo Fraunhofer CMI

RT-PCR thermoplastic chip

7 November 2017

Authors: B. Leticia Fernández-Carballo, Christine McBeth, Ian McGuiness, Maxim Kalashnikov, Christoph Baum, Salvador Borrós, Andre Sharon, Alexis F. Sauer-Budge

One of the main challenges in the diagnosis of infectious diseases is the need for rapid and accurate detection of the causative pathogen in any setting. Rapid diagnosis is key to avoiding the spread of the disease, to allow proper clinical decisions to be made in terms of patient treatment, and to mitigate the rise of drug-resistant pathogens. In the last decade, significant interest has been devoted to the development of point-of-care reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (PCR) platforms for the detection of RNA-based viral pathogens. We present the development of a microfluidic, real-time, fluorescence-based, continuous-flow reverse transcription PCR system. The system incorporates a disposable microfluidic chip designed to be produced industrially with cost-effective roll-to-roll embossing methods. The chip has a long microfluidic channel that directs the PCR solution through areas heated to different temperatures. The solution first travels through a reverse transcription zone where RNA is converted to complementary DNA, which is later amplified and detected in real time as it travels through the thermal cycling area. As a proof of concept, the system was tested for Ebola virus detection. Two different master mixes were tested, and the limit of detection of the system was determined, as was the maximum speed at which amplification occurred. Our results and the versatility of our system suggest its promise for the detection of other RNA-based viruses such as Zika virus or chikungunya virus, which constitute global health threats worldwide.

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