Point-of-care (POC) devices for rapid tests are part of an important current research field that aims to perform in situ measurements. These are applied, specially, but not only, in assays in the developing world, concerning environmental, health, quality control and clinical areas. POC devices are very attractive because it is cheap, fast, portable, and does not need any qualified operators, presenting good accuracy, precision, reproducibility, and adequate limits of detection and quantification. This technology allows automation and integration with portable instrumental detectors improving thus its qualities and reliabilities. Our group interests is to develop applied and basic research projects on regional, national and international scales involving POC devices in collaboration with specialists and researchers of academic and industrial communities. We are currently exploring the properties of paper, but not limited to this material, for the fabrication analytical devices.
One of our researches in this field focuses on the development of new approaches in lateral flow immunoassays (LFIA) for early disease diagnostics. We are using antibodies conjugated with different markers and amplification strategies using nanomaterials have been used to increase sensitivity in colorimetric detection. These rapid tests are well suited for screening, require small amounts of sample and do not require equipment/energy for the diagnostic.
Electrochemical detection is also a very interesting approach to be coupled on paper and many others low cost materials. Electrodes can be easily miniaturized, modified and have a very low cost (especially carbon). We are currently developing simple microfabrication routes to fabricate electrodes and conductive tracks in microfluidic systems. In the context of POC analysis, one of our interests is to fabricate more simple, practical, selective and sensitive devices for applications ranging from environmental monitoring to healthcare diagnostics.