Detection of cardiovascular disease associated miR-29a using paper-based microfluidics and surface enhanced Raman scattering†
The development of viable point-of-care diagnostic formats is integral to achieving better patient care and improved outcomes. The need for robust and low-cost tests is especially important in under-resourced and rural settings. Perhaps the greatest challenge is ensuring that an untrained individual is capable of operating and interpreting the test, out with a care facility. Here we present a paper-based diagnostic device capable of sensing miR-29a using both colorimetric and surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) analysis. Rather, than carry out the two types of analyses in tandem, we envisage that the colorimetric output is easy enough to be interpreted by the untrained-individual administering the test to provide them with qualitative feedback. If deemed positive, the test can be further validated at a centralized care facility using a handheld-Raman spectrometer to provide a semi-quantitative result. Detection of miR-29a, a microRNA associated with myocardial infarction, was achieved at a level of pg μL−1 through the combination of three-dimensional paper-based microfluidics, colorimetric detection, and surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) analysis. RGB analysis of the colorimetric output generated from samples containing miR-29a at different concentrations (18–360 pg μL−1) showed differentiation from the control sample, however significant repeat variability indicated that it could not be used for quantifying miR-29a levels. However, the SERS analysis exhibited greater reproducibility at varying concentrations, achieving an LoD of 47 pg μL−1. The union of the paper-based device and the two analysis methods resulted in the production of a sensitive, reproducible and facile, point of care test (POCT), which paves the way for future implementation in the diagnosis of a range of diseases.