A Handheld Point-of-Care Genomic Diagnostic System

Frank B. Myers, Richard H. Henrikson, Jennifer Bone, Luke P. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


The rapid detection and identification of infectious disease pathogens is a critical need for healthcare in both developed and developing countries. As we gain more insight into the genomic basis of pathogen infectivity and drug resistance, point-of-care nucleic acid testing will likely become an important tool for global health. In this paper, we present an inexpensive, handheld, battery-powered instrument designed to enable pathogen genotyping in the developing world. Our Microfluidic Biomolecular Amplification Reader (μBAR) represents the convergence of molecular biology, microfluidics, optics, and electronics technology. The μBAR is capable of carrying out isothermal nucleic acid amplification assays with real-time fluorescence readout at a fraction of the cost of conventional benchtop thermocyclers. Additionally, the μBAR features cell phone data connectivity and GPS sample geotagging which can enable epidemiological surveying and remote healthcare delivery. The μBAR controls assay temperature through an integrated resistive heater and monitors real-time fluorescence signals from 60 individual reaction chambers using LEDs and phototransistors. Assays are carried out on PDMS disposable microfluidic cartridges which require no external power for sample loading. We characterize the fluorescence detection limits, heater uniformity, and battery life of the instrument. As a proof-of-principle, we demonstrate the detection of the HIV-1 integrase gene with the μBAR using the Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP) assay. Although we focus on the detection of purified DNA here, LAMP has previously been demonstrated with a range of clinical samples, and our eventual goal is to develop a microfluidic device which includes on-chip sample preparation from raw samples. The μBAR is based entirely around open source hardware and software, and in the accompanying online supplement we present a full set of schematics, bill of materials, PCB layouts, CAD drawings, and source code for the μBAR instrument with the goal of spurring further innovation toward low-cost genetic diagnostics.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere70266
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2013


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