Bulletin No. 1, 2014

28   Chinese University Bulletin No. 1, 2014 T he ‘Lab-on-a-Disc (LOAD) Platform – Bioassay Automation’ of CUHK, a novel technology, is able to simplify complex DNA assay and allergen testing procedures to one single step, and produce results within an hour on- site. This greatly saves testing cost, and the time and manpower required for sample handling. It also lowers the chance of human error. LOAD, developed jointly by three Faculties, is led by Prof. Ho Ho-pui Aaron (right), Department of Electronic Engineering; Prof. Patrick K.L. Kwan (centre), Department of Medicine and Therapeutics; and Prof. Kong Siu-kai (left), School of Life Sciences. Traditional DNA assay involves taking a blood sample from the clinic to a laboratory, adding reagents, and reading assay signals with bulky equipment for genetic analysis and other biomarkers. This process often takes several days, and may lead to delayed treatment, prolonged hospital stay, and extra clinic visits. The entire LOAD system is only the size of an adult’s palm. The disposable assay cartridge is a round-shaped plastic disc that operates with a customized circuit board. LOAD needs only a drop of the patient’s blood on the disc. Using high-speed centrifugal force, the blood is directed to different chambers through the channels on the disc. The circuit board controls the temperature of each chamber for amplifying DNA, and the chemical reaction is reported through fluorescent changes. After completion of the automated process, the final result is sent to the clinician’s computer or portable device instantly and wirelessly. The entire test can be done inside the clinic in just a single step. One-step DNA Assay and Allergen Testing