Personalized nutrition diagnostics at the point-of-need
Micronutrient deficiency is widespread and negatively impacts morbidity, mortality, and quality of life globally. On-going advancements in nutritional biomarker discovery are enabling objective and accurate assessment of an individual's micronutrient and broader nutritional status. The vast majority of such assessment however still needs to be conducted in traditional centralized laboratory facilities which are not readily accessible in terms of cost and time in both the developed and developing countries. Lab-on-a-chip (LOC) technologies are enabling an increasing number of biochemical reactions at the point-of-need (PON) settings, and can significantly improve the current predicament in nutrition diagnostics by allowing rapid evaluation of one's nutritional status and providing an easy feedback mechanism for tracking changes in diet or supplementation. We believe that nutrition diagnostics represents a particularly appealing opportunity over other PON applications for two reasons: (1) healthy ranges for many micronutrients are well defined which allows for an unbiased diagnosis, and (2) many deficiencies can be reversed through changes in diet or supplementation before they become severe. In this paper, we provide background on nutritional biomarkers used in nutrition diagnostics and review the emerging technologies that exploit them at the point-of-need.