To perform a blood serum assay, a mixture of particles are added to a 25 microliter droplet. If there's any microRNA present, it binds to its complementary DNA strand. The fluorescent probe is then added and the researchers employ a custom-made microfluidic scanner to measure each particle's fluorescence. Individual particles are also imprinted with a chemical "barcode" that identifies the strand of microRNA being detected. From start to finish, a sample can be assessed in less than three hours.
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