Micronutrients, such as iron, zinc, iodine, and vitamin A, are critical for proper physical and immunological development. Prolonged deficiencies of micronutrients result in irreversibly impaired mental function, poor immunological response, and anemia, and cause hundreds of thousands of serious birth defects and tens of thousands of deaths annually. While supplements that can be easily given at the point-of-care exist, there are currently no effective solutions for measuring micronutrient levels precisely and rapidly at the point-of-care.
As part of a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Exploration Grant, we worked closely with MC10, a Boston-area for-profit, to combine our low-cost patterned paper-based diagnostics with their flexible electronics platform. In a mechanically robust, ultrathin format comparable in size to a credit card, our novel electronics enabled microfluidic paper-based analytical device (EE-μPAD) performs autonomous self-calibration, plasma separation, flow monitoring, timing and data storage.
Measurements are wirelessly transferred to a mobile phone application that geo-tags the data and transmits it to a remote server for real time tracking of micronutrient deficiencies. Clinical tests of micronutrient levels from whole blood samples and fingerstick blood samples show comparable sensitivity and specificity to ELISA-based tests. This simplified design will enable accurate monitoring of micronutrient levels in rural settings at low cost.