Draw your assay: Fabrication of low-cost paper-based diagnostic and multi-well test zones by drawing on a paper

HEIM, Andrew P.
Çınar, Simge
Cademartiri, Rebecca
LIU, Xinyu
Bloch, Jean-Francis
Thuo, Martin M.
Interest in low-cost diagnostic devices has recently gained attention, in part due to the rising cost of healthcare and the need to serve populations in resource-limited settings. A major challenge in the development of such devices is the need for hydrophobic barriers to contain polar bio-fluid analytes. Key approaches in lowering the cost in diagnostics have centered on (i) development of low-cost fabrication techniques/processes, (ii) use of affordable materials, or, (iii) minimizing the need for high-tech tools. This communication describes a simple, low-cost, adaptable, and portable method for patterning paper and subsequent use of the patterned paper in diagnostic tests. Our approach generates hydrophobic regions using a ball-point pen filled with a hydrophobizing molecule suspended in a solvent carrier. An empty ball-point pen was filled with a solution of trichloro perfluoroalkyl silane in hexanes (or hexadecane), and the pen used to draw lines on Whatman (R) chromatography 1 paper. The drawn regions defined the test zones since the trichloro silane reacts with the paper to give a hydrophobic barrier. The formation of the hydrophobic barriers is reaction kinetic and diffusion-limited, ensuring well defined narrow barriers. We performed colorimetric glucose assays and enzyme-linked immuno-sorbent assay (ELISA) using the created test zones. To demonstrate the versatility of this approach, we fabricated multiple devices on a single piece of paper and demonstrated the reproducibility of assays on these devices. The overall cost of devices fabricated by drawing are relatively lower (<US $0.001 per device) than those derived from wax-printing (US$0.05-0.003) or other approaches.