While developing the detection part of our project, the handling of the LFA tests had to be very careful and delicate. While this wasn’t very problematic for us, we knew that if we wanted to implement and deploy our test in the real world, we had to do something. The solution was simple in theory, but difficult implementing it in the real world.
The main problem of doing such tests in fish farms is the difficulty in obtaining accurate results, because the environment in which the test would be executed is uncontrolled, compared to the laboratory. Smaller fish farms may not have the necessary equipment needed to perform the test. Also, the operation has to be sterile and excess fluid should only flow on to the sample pad, without touching other parts of the test. A solution, meeting such needs is required.
Our devised solution - a lateral flow assay test case. The case meets all required needs, thus, we proceeded to construct a physical prototype by 3D printing. While a few team members had 3D modelling experience, our team had little knowledge of 3D printing and designing models to be made. This was a thing we could not have accomplished by ourselves. We decided to collaborate with Micromolds, a transparent, straightforward, socially responsible company, to get help with the task1. The collaboration included many meetings with representatives of the company, where we discussed various requirements for the case. A few weeks into the collaboration, we already had our prototype 3D printed. It had most things we needed: a sturdy case which holds the test in place, and doesn’t let fluid overflow onto other parts of the test, but it had a few flaws as well, such as being too loose inside. We made the second version of our case with a few improvements: the well for the sample was modified to have a slope, so more fluid could fit, the test would be secured in place more steadily and the pads pressed together.
Video 1. Interview video with Micromolds on lateral flow assay strip test kit.
The test case is made from two parts, which lock together, thus, it can be reused by taking the test out of the case and replacing it. Also, it is designed in a way that it is ready to be 3D printed. The design is independent from the material, so using a wide variety of plastic types, including recycled plastic, is allowed.
It is worth mentioning, that with sufficient modelling skills, the 3D model can be adjusted, varying several parameters, like test width, height and length. Also, the design of the case can be used in mass production by making a mold of it.
LFA is a very popular method because of its speed and simplicity. With that in mind, it can be extremely beneficial for many organizations and future iGEM teams, because they would not need to spend time designing this case.
- Signed Sponsorship Agreement with Vilnius-Lithuania iGEM 2020 Team. Micromolds.eu (2020) at https://www.micromolds.eu/post/_igem.