Novel microdevices for controlled blood and skin extraction (2016–2021)
The focus of this Fellowship is to equip CI Lin with extensive training and in-depth knowledge for developing novel topical sampling microdevices to enable diagnosis of infectious disease and superficial skin lesions in remote/rural settings. A microbiopsy platform device that is capable of extracting a small amount of epithelial tissue (approximately 2000 cells) was developed during the course of the PhD program. However, this approach is limited only to molecular biomarker analysis and not suited for histopathological assessment. There is a need for minimally invasive topical diagnostics capable of controlled and targeted tissue/fluid extraction from the skin. More specifically, current tissue biopsies are not capable of repeated sampling in patients without the need for local anaesthesia or sutures. In contrast, blood lancets are small and can be applied to the skin with minimal pain or disruption to the tissue. However, blood lancets simply create a puncture in the skin with no control over the quantity of blood extracted. Pilot studies have shown that the microbiopsy can be integrated with absorbent material facilitating extraction but it is yet to be controlled. In this Fellowship, I aim to develop novel microdevices for controlled extraction of either tissue or blood for downstream integrated diagnostic approaches. The tissue microbiopsy will be suited for both histopathological assessment and molecular analysis. The blood biopsy will be tightly controlled with integrated microfluidics allowing for accurate extraction of defined quantities of blood. The long-term outcomes are projected to be a range of disease specific microdevices tailored for rapid point-of-care or telemedical diagnostic approaches.