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Microfluidics as an Emerging Platform for Tackling Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR): A Review

[ Vol. 16 , Issue. 1 ]


Sammer-ul Hassan* and Xunli Zhang*   Pages 41 - 51 ( 11 )


Background: Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when microbes become resistant to antibiotics causing complications and limited treatment options. AMR is more significant where antibiotics use is excessive or abusive and the strains of bacteria become resistant to antibiotic treatments. Current technologies for bacteria and its resistant strains identification and antimicrobial susceptibility testing (AST) are mostly central-lab based in hospitals, which normally take days to weeks to get results. These tools and procedures are expensive, laborious and skills based. There is an ever-increasing demand for developing point-of-care (POC) diagnostics tools for rapid and near patient AMR testing. Microfluidics, an important and fundamental technique to develop POC devices, has been utilized to tackle AMR in healthcare. This review mainly focuses on the current development in the field of microfluidics for rapid AMR testing.

Method: Due to the limitations of conventional AMR techniques, microfluidic-based platforms have been developed for better understandings of bacterial resistance, smart AST and minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) testing tools and development of new drugs. This review aims to summarize the recent development of AST and MIC testing tools in different formats of microfluidics technology.

Results: Various microfluidics devices have been developed to combat AMR. Miniaturization and integration of different tools has been attempted to produce handheld or standalone devices for rapid AMR testing using different formats of microfluidics technology such as active microfluidics, droplet microfluidics, paper microfluidics and capillary-driven microfluidics.

Conclusion: Current conventional AMR detection technologies provide time-consuming, costly, labor-intensive and central lab-based solutions, limiting their applications. Microfluidics has been developed for decades and the technology has emerged as a powerful tool for POC diagnostics of antimicrobial resistance in healthcare providing, simple, robust, cost-effective and portable diagnostics. The success has been reported in research articles; however, the potential of microfluidics technology in tackling AMR has not been fully achieved in clinical settings.


Antibiotic, antimicrobial resistance (AMR), Antimicrobial susceptibility testing (AST), capillary flow, colorimetry, lab-on-a-chip, microfluidics, Minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC), Point-of-care.


Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton SO17 1BJ, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton SO17 1BJ

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