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National Taiwan University of Science and Technology has developed a spectrochip that enables precise rapid screening.

Sun Luoxuan

Jul 25, 2022

For centuries, spectrometers have been a focal point in scientific research due to their high accuracy, wide measurement range, fast speed, and minimal sample requirement. However, the challenges of large size, high cost, and the need for specialized operators have hindered the development of spectrometers.

Over the past 20 years, Associate Professor Ko Cheng-Hao and his research team at Taiwan Tech's Institute of Automation and Control have successfully miniaturized spectrometers from the size of a laboratory instrument to a palm-sized "spectrochip" that can be carried and used for testing anytime, anywhere. They aim to establish a network connecting homes and hospitals through collaboration with professional medical institutions, enabling remote healthcare, precise medicine, AI-integrated healthcare, and preventive medicine.

The research team has utilized innovative breakthrough technologies and employed wafer production to manufacture the spectroscopic chip, significantly reducing its size and allowing for portable use. The chip has a wide range of applications and does not require specialized personnel for operation. Test results can be uploaded to a cloud database and used to establish a network connecting homes and hospitals, enabling remote healthcare and preventive medicine.

The "SpectroChip Precise Rapid Screening Device" developed by the research team has been used in several hospitals for antibody quantitative screening. Clinical validations in various medical institutions have demonstrated the device's sensitivity in antibody detection, which exceeds the international standard of the Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) by over 1,000 times. This breakthrough technology provides unique and superior early detection of antibodies.

How does the SpectroChip Precise Rapid Screening Device achieve its four advantages: fast, cost-effective, accurate, and wide-reaching?

The device is currently supporting antibody screening research for 5,000 individuals in Taipei City, fully utilizing its advantages of speed, cost-effectiveness, accuracy, and wide coverage. The entire antibody detection process is completed within 15 minutes (compared to over 2 hours for hospital machines). Only a drop of blood is required, without the need for sample preprocessing. The accuracy is comparable to hospital machines, and the compact size allows for widespread testing locations. The data can be instantly uploaded to the cloud for real-time big data analysis in epidemiology.

By deploying just 10,000 SpectroChip Precise Rapid Screening Devices throughout Taipei City, the antibody screening for the entire population can be completed in five days. Testing locations can be widely distributed in clinics and health centers, decentralizing antibody testing and significantly reducing the burden on hospitals.

Facilitating the "Decentralization of Testing"

The SpectroChip Precise Rapid Screening Device can accurately detect the concentration of neutralizing antibodies in the human body, providing an accurate measure of vaccine efficacy. Professor Ko's team is collaborating with the FDA CLIA laboratory at Temple University in the United States to conduct precise rapid screening for neutralizing antibodies. Up to now, clinical experiments involving 400 individuals have shown a high conformity rate of 98% compared to large machines. They are currently preparing to apply for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

If approved, the SpectroChip Precise Rapid Screening Device will be the world's first concept verification (Proof of Concept, POC) device for precise detection of neutralizing antibodies. It can be widely used in personal medical consultations and clinics. After EUA approval, the market for the device will encompass 600,000 clinics throughout the United States, realizing the ideal of "decentralization of testing."


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