NASA grant launches Imec zero-gravity health monitor testing

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Imec has announced it received NASA funding to test a potential astronaut health monitor. The first-of-its-kind disposable diagnostic device technology, created by the Leuven research center’s Midiagnostics spin-off, uses blood samples to generate a cell blood count (CBC). Currently, however, the device has been developed for earth-based conditions.

Midiagnostics’ research prototype device. Credit: Imec

The Midiagnostics research prototype is built around a silicon-based nanofluidic processor. From only a few drops of blood, the device can perform a series of blood sample manipulations yielding a complete CBC with extremely fast turnaround time. In other configurations, the same platform will enable accurate and instantaneous point-of-need diagnostics for a suite of cellular, biochemical and molecular tests.

To test the device for potential use in zero-gravity environments, Imec will design test parameters and perform experiments utilizing parabolic flight, which offers different gravitational loads. This specific environment will allow testing of the functionality of the nanofluidic system and its independence from gravity — from sample capture at the inlet port to its migration within the nanofluidic channel network.