Dr. XiuJun “James” Li
A group of researchers at the University of Texas at El Paso is working on making it cheaper, faster and easier to test for meningitis and pertussis. Dr. XiuJun “James” Li, assistant professor of chemistry, and Dr. Delfina C. Domínguez, professor of clinical laboratory sciences, have joined efforts to produce a paper-based biochip that can be used in schools, clinics and developing nations.
Using chromatography paper, Li has developed a three-dimensional, paper-based microfluidic device that uses DNA amplification to provide a rapid, low-cost and highly sensitive method to diagnose whooping cough. The procedure involves placing a sample from a nasal swab in a device similar to a pregnancy test strip that will change color to indicate the presence of the bacteria. Results are available in 40 minutes.
It is similar to a device Li developed with a grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences to detect meningitis.
Clinical trials are being conducted now for whooping cough in collaboration with a California children’s hospital. Clinical trials for meningitis are pending.
So far, they have completed 50 percent of clinical samples obtained from the hospital, and achieved consistent results from the hospital. Testing is expected to be complete this summer.
The device does not require any specialized equipment; it offers super high-sensitivity. The detection limit is down to a few bacteria each assay, which is fully comparable with real-time PCR (~$60,000).
Source: University of Texas at El Paso