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Semin Perinatol. 2010 Apr;34(2):163-9. doi: 10.1053/j.semperi.2009.12.008.

Digital microfluidics: a future technology in the newborn screening laboratory?

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Department of Pediatrics, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27713, USA.


Expansion of newborn screening for inherited metabolic disorders using tandem mass spectrometry has generated interest in screening for other treatable conditions, including lysosomal storage diseases. Limitations to expansion include labor and equipment costs. We describe a cost-effective new platform that reduces the time to result reporting and can perform multiplexing assays requiring different platforms. Immunoassays and enzyme activity assays currently used in newborn screening have been translated to a disposable microchip programmed to dispense, transport, mix, wash, and incubate individual microdroplets from specimens, including dried blood spot extracts, and reagents all under software control. The specimen and reagents consumed are approximately 1% of those required by equivalent bench assays. In addition to immunologic and enzymatic assays, DNA amplification, amplicon detection, and sequencing have been demonstrated using the same microchips and control equipment. Recently, the multiplexing of 4 different enzyme activities has also been demonstrated with negligible cross-contamination. We review assays relevant to newborn screening.

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