A device architecture for three-dimensional, patterned paper immunoassays†
Diagnostic assays can provide valuable information about the health status of a patient, which include detection of biomarkers that indicate the presence of an infection, the progression or regression of a disease, and the efficacy of a course of treatment. Critical healthcare decisions must often be made at the point-of-care, far from the infrastructure and diagnostic capabilities of centralized laboratories. There exists an obvious need for diagnostic tools that are designed to address the unique challenges encountered by healthcare workers in limited-resource settings. Paper, a readily-available and inexpensive commodity, is an attractive medium with which to develop diagnostic assays for use in limited-resource settings. In this article, we describe a device architecture to perform immunoassays in patterned paper. These paper-based devices use a combination of lateral and vertical flow to control the wicking of fluid in three-dimensions. We provide guidelines to aid in the design of these devices and we illustrate how patterning can be used to tune the duration and performance of the assay. We demonstrate the use of these paper-based devices by developing a sandwich immunoassay for human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in urine, a biomarker of pregnancy. We then directly compare the qualitative and quantitative results of these paper-based immunoassays to commercially available lateral flow tests (i.e., the home pregnancy test). Our results suggest paper-based devices may find broad utility in the development of immunoassays for use at the point-of-care.