Theranostics 2021; 11(14):6735-6745. doi:10.7150/thno.57153

Research Paper

Rapid and simple single-chamber nucleic acid detection system prepared through nature-inspired surface engineering

Jihyo Park1, Sangwon Woo2, Jiyeon Kim1, Hakho Lee3✉, Yeong-Eun Yoo2✉, Seonki Hong1✉

1. Department of Emerging Materials Science, DGIST, Daegu, 42988, Republic of Korea.
2. Department of Nano Manufacturing Technology, Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials (KIMM), Daejeon, 34103, Republic of Korea.
3. Center for Systems Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, 02114, USA.

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Park J, Woo S, Kim J, Lee H, Yoo YE, Hong S. Rapid and simple single-chamber nucleic acid detection system prepared through nature-inspired surface engineering. Theranostics 2021; 11(14):6735-6745. doi:10.7150/thno.57153. Available from

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Background: Nucleic acid (NA)-based diagnostics enable a rapid response to various diseases, but current techniques often require multiple labor-intensive steps, which is a major obstacle to successful translation to a clinical setting.

Methods: We report on a surface-engineered single-chamber device for NA extraction and in situ amplification without sample transfer. Our system has two reaction sites: a NA extraction chamber whose surface is patterned with micropillars and a reaction chamber filled with reagents for in situ polymerase-based NA amplification. These two sites are integrated in a single microfluidic device; we applied plastic injection molding for cost-effective, mass-production of the designed device. The micropillars were chemically activated via a nature-inspired silica coating to possess a specific affinity to NA.

Results: As a proof-of-concept, a colorimetric pH indicator was coupled to the on-chip analysis of NA for the rapid and convenient detection of pathogens. The NA enrichment efficiency was dependent on the lysate incubation time, as diffusion controls the NA contact with the engineered surface. We could detect down to 1×103 CFU by the naked eye within one hour of the total assay time.

Conclusion: We anticipate that the surface engineering technique for NA enrichment could be easily integrated as a part of various types of microfluidic chips for rapid and convenient nucleic acid-based diagnostics.

Keywords: nucleic acid-based diagnostics, injection molding, surface coating, colorimetric assay, pathogen detection