Toward practical application of paper-based microfluidics for medical diagnostics: state-of-the-art and challenges
Microfluidic paper-based analytical devices (μPADs) have emerged as a promising diagnostic platform a decade ago. In contrast to highly active academic developments, their entry into real-life applications is still very limited. This discrepancy is attributed to the gap between research developments and their practical utility, particularly in the aspects of operational simplicity, long-term stability of devices, and associated equipment. On the basis of these backgrounds, this review attempts to: 1) identify the reasons for success of paper-based devices already in the market, 2) describe the current status and remaining issues of μPADs in terms of operational complexity, signal interpretation approaches, and storage stability, and 3) discuss the possibility of mass production based on established manufacturing technologies. Finally, the state-of-the-art in commercialisation of μPADs is discussed, and the “upgrades” required from a laboratory-based prototype to an end user device are demonstrated on a specific example.