Prevention and Therapy

KODIAK - Components and Modules for Improved Optical Point-of-Care Diagnostics

Project period: 07/2021-06/2023

Lab-on-chip (LOC) diagnostics is nowadays state of the art in various laboratory diagnostic procedures. It enables automated processing and evaluation of samples. Diagnostic results can thus be made available more cost-effectively, faster and earlier than conventional analysis in a medical laboratory. However, lab-on-chip systems are not available for all applications. Together with partners, the Fraunhofer Center MEOS is therefore developing new components and modules for LOC diagnostics in the field of cytokine release syndrome. 

Cytokine release syndrome (CRS) can occur in a variety of diseases and therapies, for example immunotherapy, sepsis and infectious diseases such as Covid-19. In CRS, cytokines are produced in the course of the body's immune response, which activate further immune cells. These migrate to the site of inflammation and also produce cytokines, so an exuberant immune response occurs. The immune reaction does not subside automatically, as it usually does, but continues to intensify. Since this severe side effect can be fatal, it must be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. 

To ensure rapid analysis of CRS, various biomarkers in the blood that are typical of an inflammatory response must be detected quickly and with high sensitivity. This can be detected and quantified via fluorescence- or luminescence-based assays on a microfluidic chip. Currently, diagnosis is symptomatic, i.e., time-delayed and nonspecific, and via blood tests, i.e., invasive. It would be desirable to have an online monitoring system that immediately detects the occurrence of CRS. This is where the joint project KODIAK comes in. In addition to the biological assay, electronic, optical and fluidic components and the associated integration techniques are being developed and their usefulness demonstrated on a lab-on-chip system for CRS diagnostics. 

Fraunhofer IZI staff working at the MEOS center are developing the luminescence assay for CRS detection as part of KODIAK. The detection is performed in optically transparent microfluidic cavities to which SPAD (Single Photon Avalanche Diode) sensors of the project partner IMMS are attached for optical detection. The necessary optics design comes from Fraunhofer IPMS. Overall, the new technology is expected to contribute to earlier detection of serious disease processes, more effective use of clinical capacities and strengthening medical care for patients.