Dipstick and lateral-flow formats have dominated rapid diagnostics over the last three decades. These formats gained popularity in the consumer markets due to their compactness, portability and facile interpretation without external instrumentation. However, lack of quantitation in measurements has challenged the demand of existing assay formats in consumer markets. Recently, paper-based microfluidics has emerged as a multiplexable point-of-care platform which might transcend the capabilities of existing assays in resource-limited settings. However, paper-based microfluidics can enable fluid handling and quantitative analysis for potential applications in healthcare, veterinary medicine, environmental monitoring and food safety. Currently, in its early development stages, paper-based microfluidics is considered a low-cost, lightweight, and disposable technology. The aim of this review is to discuss: (1) fabrication of paper-based microfluidic devices, (2) functionalisation of microfluidic components to increase the capabilities and the performance, (3) introduction of existing detection techniques to the paper platform and (4) exploration of extracting quantitative readouts via handheld devices and camera phones. Additionally, this review includes challenges to scaling up, commercialisation and regulatory issues. The factors which limit paper-based microfluidic devices to become real world products and future directions are also identified.
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