A Lab in Your Living Room

sidebarHate to wait?

New technology from Dr. Adam Woolley of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry promises to eradicate some of the wait from one place we spend a lot of time waiting—the doctor’s office.

Woolley, along with Mike Alder of BYU Technology Transfer, discussed the development of a simple lab-on-a-chip system with Marcus Smith on BYU Radio’s The Morning Show on July 28.

Woolley’s lab is in the process of developing a device that would allow consumers to test themselves for disease without having to go to the doctor or having extensive technical training.

“We’d like to be able to take a sample, such as a drop of blood or urine, and, in a very quick and simple fashion, . . . be able to figure out what concentration of molecules related to disease might be present,” Woolley said.

The test device is made up of microchannels set in a soft polymer. When a drop of fluid is inserted, the consumer will be able to quickly discern the level of risk for disease based on the flow distance of the sample.

In addition to being significantly faster than traditional blood work, Woolley is hopeful that this technology will be useful for early detection for a range of potentially devastating medical conditions, including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and even preterm birth.

“If we have the biomarkers and can detect those biomarkers, we should be able to have an idea about whether or not a person is at risk for that disease,” he said.

Because of its small size and ease of operation, Woolley believes his mini-lab will be useful for improving medical care in low-income settings and developing countries, where access to advanced medical testing is extremely limited.

Woolley currently has ten patents in the works based on this and other technologies, and the BYU Technology Transfer office is very excited about its potential, said Mike Alder.

“The opportunity here is one of convenience,” Alder said. “It gives an almost instant readout. This will completely erase the discomfort of not knowing.”

By Meg Monk Posted on