HolidayBuyer's Guide

Lab-on-a-chip detects bacterial infections

ST Microelectronics has developed a chip that allows doctors to see if you've been infected by -resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus or other sepsis-causing bacteria, or bacteria in the blood.

The chip is essentially a spin on a lab-on-a-chip for testing for genetic diseases ST showed off in 2002. The chip, a microelectromechanical system or MEMS, conducts a blood sample through a series of tubes. The sample is heated and then cells are replicated through the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). Typically, the process takes quite a bit of time in standard lab equipment but only takes fifteen minutes or so in the disposable chips.

In the bacterial version, the results are compared against a pathogen array from Mobidiag. Clinical trials are planned for early 2006 and ST hopes to have chips out later that year commercially.