Portable, low-cost, and quantitative nucleic acid detection is desirable for point-of-care diagnostics; however, current polymerase chain reaction testing often requires time-consuming multiple steps and costly equipment. We report an integrated microfluidic diagnostic device capable of on-site quantitative nucleic acid detection directly from the blood without separate sample preparation steps. First, we prepatterned the amplification initiator [magnesium acetate (MgOAc)] on the chip to enable digital nucleic acid amplification. Second, a simplified sample preparation step is demonstrated, where the plasma is separated autonomously into 224 microwells (100 nl per well) without any hemolysis. Furthermore, self-powered microfluidic pumping without any external pumps, controllers, or power sources is accomplished by an integrated vacuum battery on the chip. This simple chip allows rapid quantitative digital nucleic acid detection directly from human blood samples (10 to 105 copies of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus DNA per microliter, ~30 min, via isothermal recombinase polymerase amplification). These autonomous, portable, lab-on-chip technologies provide promising foundations for future low-cost molecular diagnostic assays.
Keywords: Microfluidics; digital PCR; digital medicine; isothermal amplification; microfluidic patterning; plasma separation; point-of-care molecular diagnostics; precision medicine; recombinase polymerase amplification; sample preparation.