Baebies is developing innovative solutions for biochemical testing built on digital microfluidics and other technology.
The technology requires a smaller sample volume from the patient and uses less reagent. Instruments are much smaller and more cost effective.
Micro-volumes and a fully automated system mean faster time to results. Multiple assay protocols are performed in parallel.
Multiple assays, including different assay types, can be multiplexed together on the same cartridge, using the same sample simultaneously. Each assay is spatially independent, so conditions can be optimized for each assay.
Because of the discrete nature of the liquid volumes – as well as the synchronization and programmability of the fluid manipulations – this technique has been referred to as digital microfluidics.
What is digital microfluidics?
Digital microfluidics uses quick manipulation of separate droplets by electrical control of surface tension (electrowetting) to perform bioassay protocols. Tiny droplets can be discretely moved anywhere within a network of connecting electrodes through automated fluid manipulations for simple or complex droplet operations.
Here’s how it works:
- An array of surface electrodes is layered by another plate to form a chamber in which the droplets are sandwiched.
- The remaining space is filled with an immiscible filler fluid to prevent evaporation of the droplets and to facilitate droplet transport.
- In this system, droplets can be transferred between any two neighboring electrodes and can be transported anywhere within a network of adjoining electrodes.
Because of the discrete nature of the liquid volumes – as well as the synchronization and programmability of the fluid manipulations – this technique has been referred to as “digital microfluidics.” Many of the technology inventors are on the Baebies team. Baebies’ technology is protected by more than a hundred patents.
The advantages of digital microfluidics
Digital microfluidics offers a number of advantages over current platforms for biochemical testing:
Low sample and reagent volume.
Low sample volume is critical in patients.
Multiplexing of different tests.
Multiple assays, including different types of assays, can be multiplexed together on the same cartridge. Programmable control of liquids allows multiple assays to be performed on the same cartridge simultaneously.
Baebies has demonstrated assays using plasma, whole blood and saliva samples. On-cartridge sample preparation allows for input of a variety of samples.
Automated sample processing.
Integration of multiple complex fluidic operations on the same cartridge eliminates user intervention and reduces hands-on time. Plasma extraction is performed on the cartridge, so skilled labor and centrifugation equipment are not required.
Each assay is processed in a discrete reaction droplet to eliminate interaction between assays.
On-board thermal regulation.
Thermal control for assays is built within the instrument.
Portability and rapid results.
The platform is small enough to be portable. Microfluidics allow for shorter testing times.
Flexibility for future expansion.
Additional panels will be developed using the same cartridge and instrument; assay protocols are pulled from the software.
Digital microfluidics makes it possible to perform many types of biochemical assays, including enzymatic assays, immunoassays and nucleic acid testing.
- Enzymatic assays may either be detected via absorbance or fluorescence and typically measure reduced activity / lack of activity of a particular enzyme.
- Immunoassays on the digital microfluidic platform use magnetic beads coupled to antibodies. After a reagent is added, the analyte is measured through fluorescence.
- Nucleic acid testing on the digital microfluidic platform involves DNA amplification and integrated sample preparation. The platform allows for on-cartridge sample preparation.
Baebies has implemented sample preparation from plasma, whole blood and saliva using a variety of techniques on the cartridge. The ability of digital microfluidics to manipulate individual droplets drives sample preparation and allows for a robust sample-to-answer system.
Baebies instruments have the capability to support multiple detection modalities including fluorescence and colorimetric readout capabilities.