Issue 20, 2023

LoCKAmp: lab-on-PCB technology for <3 minute virus genetic detection


The recent COVID-19 outbreak highlighted the need for lab-on-chip diagnostic technology fit for real-life deployment in the field. Existing bottlenecks in multistep analytical microsystem integration and upscalable, standardized fabrication techniques delayed the large-scale deployment of lab-on-chip solutions during the outbreak, throughout a global diagnostic test shortage. This study presents a technology that has the potential to address these issues by redeploying and repurposing the ubiquitous printed circuit board (PCB) technology and manufacturing infrastructure. We demonstrate the first commercially manufactured, miniaturised lab-on-PCB device for loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) genetic detection of SARS-CoV-2. The system incorporates a mass-manufactured, continuous-flow PCB chip with ultra-low cost fluorescent detection circuitry, rendering it the only continuous-flow μLAMP platform with off-the-shelf optical detection components. Ultrafast, SARS-CoV-2 RNA amplification in wastewater samples was demonstrated within 2 min analysis, at concentrations as low as 17 gc μL−1. We further demonstrate our device operation by detecting SARS-CoV-2 in 20 human nasopharyngeal swab samples, without the need for any RNA extraction or purification. This renders the presented miniaturised nucleic-acid amplification-based diagnostic test the fastest reported SARS-CoV-2 genetic detection platform, in a practical implementation suitable for deployment in the field. This technology can be readily extended to the detection of alternative pathogens or genetic targets for a very broad range of applications and matrices. LoCKAmp lab-on-PCB chips are currently mass-manufactured in a commercial, ISO-compliant PCB factory, at a small-scale production cost of £2.50 per chip. Thus, with this work, we demonstrate a high technology-readiness-level lab-on-chip-based genetic detection system, successfully benchmarked against standard analytical techniques both for wastewater and nasopharyngeal swab SARS-CoV-2 detection.

Graphical abstract: LoCKAmp: lab-on-PCB technology for <3 minute virus genetic detection

Supplementary files

Article information

Article type
19 May 2023
02 Sep 2023
First published
07 Sep 2023
This article is Open Access
Creative Commons BY license

Lab Chip, 2023,23, 4400-4412

LoCKAmp: lab-on-PCB technology for <3 minute virus genetic detection

S. Papamatthaiou, J. Boxall-Clasby, E. J. A. Douglas, P. Jajesniak, H. Peyret, J. Mercer-Chalmers, V. K. S. Kumar, G. P. Lomonossoff, J. Reboud, M. Laabei, J. M. Cooper, B. Kasprzyk-Hordern and D. Moschou, Lab Chip, 2023, 23, 4400 DOI: 10.1039/D3LC00441D

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