A simple polystyrene microfluidic device for sensitive and accurate SERS-based detection of infection by malaria parasites

Maria João Oliveira, Soraia Caetano, Ana Dalot, Filipe Sabino, Tomás R. Calmeiro, Elvira Fortunato, Rodrigo Martins, Eulália Pereira, Miguel Prudêncio, Hugh J. Byrne, Ricardo Franco, Hugo Águas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Early and accurate detection of infection by pathogenic microorganisms, such as Plasmodium, the causative agent of malaria, is critical for clinical diagnosis and ultimately determines the patient's outcome. We have combined a polystyrene-based microfluidic device with an immunoassay which utilises Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) to detect malaria. The method can be easily translated to a point-of-care testing format and shows excellent sensitivity and specificity, when compared to the gold standard for laboratorial detection of Plasmodium infections. The device can be fabricated in less than 30 min by direct patterning on shrinkable polystyrene sheets of adaptable three-dimensional microfluidic chips. To validate the microfluidic system, samples of P. falciparum-infected red blood cell cultures were used. The SERS-based immunoassay enabled the detection of 0.0012 ± 0.0001% parasitaemia in a P. falciparum-infected red blood cell culture supernatant, an ∼7-fold higher sensitivity than that attained by most rapid diagnostic tests. Our approach successfully overcomes the main challenges of the current Plasmodium detection methods, including increased reproducibility, sensitivity, and specificity. Furthermore, our system can be easily adapted for detection of other pathogens and has excellent properties for early diagnosis of infectious diseases, a decisive step towards lowering their high burden on healthcare systems worldwide.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4053-4063
Number of pages11
JournalAnalyst
Volume148
Issue number17
Early online date28 Jul 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Aug 2023

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