A 3D-printed microchip device separates and detects biomarkers of preterm birth.
A 3D-printed microchip device separates and detects biomarkers of preterm birth.
Source: Adapted from Anal. Chem. 2019, DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.9b01395

3D printed device detects biomarkers of preterm birth

Preterm birth (PTB) — defined as birth before the 37th week of gestation — is the leading complication of pregnancy. If doctors had a simple, accurate and inexpensive way to identify women at risk for the condition, they could develop better prevention strategies. Now researchers have created a 3D printed microchip electrophoresis device that can sensitively detect three serum biomarkers of PTB.

According to the World Health Organization, PTB affects about 1 in 10 pregnancies worldwide. Preterm infants can suffer complications such as neurological, respiratory and cardiac problems and, in some cases, even death. Scientists have previously identified biomarker peptides and proteins in maternal serum that can fairly accurately predict PTB at 28 weeks of gestation. However, existing methods for detecting the biomarkers are laborious or not very sensitive. In prior research, Adam Woolley and colleagues used a 2D microfluidic device to separate PTB biomarkers by electrophoresis. But making these devices was slow, error-prone and costly. The process also required a clean room, caustic chemicals and highly trained personnel. Therefore, Woolley’s team wanted to develop a 3D printed microchip device, which would be much simpler, faster and cheaper to make, for separating and detecting fluorescently labeled PTB biomarkers.

The researchers printed their device onto a glass slide using a 3D printer with a custom resin as the ink. To achieve the best separation of three peptide biomarkers by electrophoresis, they optimized the device design, as well as parameters such as applied voltages and buffer identity and composition. The 3D printed microchip could detect the three PTB biomarkers in the picomolar to low nanomolar range, similar to their 2D microfluidic device. The researchers note that although these detection limits are still higher than the PTB risk levels for the biomarkers, they could increase the sensitivity by adding a component to the device that concentrates the peptides.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Related articles

World first in 3D printed self-expandable stents

World first in 3D printed self-expandable stents

Researchers from CSIRO have made it possible to 3D print tailor-made stents, a critical biomedical device used to treat narrow or blocked arteries.

Sugar: Sweet way to 3D print blood vessels

Sugar: Sweet way to 3D print blood vessels

Scientists have developed a way of using laser-sintering of powdered sugars to produce highly detailed structures that mimick the body’s intricate, branching blood vessels in lab-grown tissues.

Researchers successfully bioprint healthy new tissue

Researchers successfully bioprint healthy new tissue

New muscle has successfully been created in mice using a minimally invasive technique dubbed ‘intravital 3D bioprinting’.

3D printed material mimics biological tissues

3D printed material mimics biological tissues

Researchers have developed a method to 3D print liquid crystal elastomers so that they form complex structures with physical properties that match those of complex biological tissues, such as cartilage.

Device could support multiple COVID-19 patients from one ventilator

Device could support multiple COVID-19 patients from one ventilator

3D printing fuels efforts to rapidly increase ventilator capacity while providing each patient on vent support with individually tailored gas pressures and pressure monitoring.

3D printed rubbery brain implants

3D printed rubbery brain implants

Engineers are working on developing soft, flexible neural implants that can gently conform to the brain’s contours and monitor activity over longer periods.

The risks of using 3D printing to make PPE

The risks of using 3D printing to make PPE

A researcher provides caution on the use of 3D printing to make masks and other PPE for individuals on the front lines of the Covid-19 crisis.

3D printed sensor invented for wearables

3D printed sensor invented for wearables

Researchers have utilized 3D printing and nanotechnology to create a durable, flexible sensor for wearable devices to monitor everything from vital signs to athletic performance.

Printable rubber-like material could replace human tissue

Printable rubber-like material could replace human tissue

Researchers have created a material with a unique set of properties, which could act as a replacement for human tissue in medical procedures.

Popular articles