The erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) is an important clinical test that screens several inflammatory conditions, infections, trauma, as well as non-inflammatory conditions such as stroke. The current standard test for ESR measurement is Westergren assay, which is a 1 h long test requiring a few ml of whole blood and trained technical personnel.
Despite their simplicity, erythrocytes present several interesting behaviors. Erythrocyte aggregation (EA) is a physiochemical phenomenon where erythrocytes form reversible face-to-face linear structures. UNAM researchers, Ziya Işıksaçan and Dr. Çağlar Elbüken, studied these fundamental properties of erythrocytes and explained the relationship between ESR and EA. Together with Prof. Ozcan Erel from Ankara Yildirim Beyazit University Faculty of Medicine, the team has developed a novel microfluidic system that measures ESR at the point-of-care in 2 min using 40 μl of whole blood. This work is presented as a cover article published on Lab on a Chip.
The point-of-care system measures ESR by optically investigating the aggregation / disaggregation kinetics of erythrocytes in real-time. The validation tests performed at Atatürk Hospital have confirmed that the results obtained with the developed system have a high correlation with the conventionally used gold standard Westergen method.
Dr. Elbüken has pointed out: “We are thrilled to see that microfluidic tools can help us explain some very basic physiological behaviors of cells.” Also, the Ph.D. student Ziya Işıksaçan has added: “With the point-of-care platforms we are developing in our lab, we aim at decreasing the number of physician/hospital visits by individuals and diminishing their medical expenses.”
The article has been featured as an Inside Front Cover in Lab Chip, 2016, 16, 4682 and can be accessed at the journal website: