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WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

Not everyone has access to a lab that can process blood tests, so this breakthrough will help people in developing nations diagnose disease faster.

 

Dutch and Japanese scientists have developed an inexpensive new paper-based blood test kit that quickly determines if patients have infectious diseases. Among other things, it could be of great help to clinicians in developing nations who don’t have access to traditional lab equipment, and individuals who don’t have quick access to healthcare services.

 

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Created in a collaboration between the Netherlands’ Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and Japan’s Keio University, the square paper device requires users to simply place a drop of blood on a marked target area, wait 20 minutes, then turn the paper over and check the color of one of three glowing spots on its underside.

Upon initially being deposited on the paper, the blood mixes with a TU/e-made luminous sensor protein contained within the spot, creating a biochemical reaction that causes the spot to emit blue light … at first, that is.

If the blood is from a non-infected individual, a second step in the reaction will cause the light to subsequently turn green. Should the person be infected, though, antibodies in their blood will bind to the sensor protein, blocking the second step to a certain extent – as a result, the light will at least partially remain blue. A strip containing the kits is pictured below.

 

 

Using their smartphone’s camera and an app, clinicians can then analyze the color of the spot to determine just where it falls on the blue-to-green spectrum. This will indicate the concentration of the antibodies in the blood, and thus the severity of the infection. Basically speaking, though, it’s a matter of the greener the better.

 

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Each of the paper’s three spots can be tweaked to react to specific antibodies associated with specific infectious diseases, allowing users to check for three diseases at once. Using that approach, the technology has successfully been used to simultaneously test a single blood sample for HIV, flu and dengue fever so the technology’s potential is huge.

The research, which was led by TU/e’s Prof. Maarten Merkx, is described in a paper that was recently published in the journal Angewandte Chemie. It is hoped that the test kits will be commercially available within a few years.

Source: Eindhoven University of Technology

About author

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers” and a “Young Kurzweil,” is the founder and CEO of the World Futures Forum and the 311 Institute, a global Futures and Deep Futures consultancy working between the dates of 2020 to 2070, and is an award winning futurist, and author of “Codex of the Future” series. Regularly featured in the global media, including AP, BBC, CNBC, Discovery, RT, and Viacom, Matthew’s ability to identify, track, and explain the impacts of hundreds of revolutionary emerging technologies on global culture, industry and society, is unparalleled. Recognised for the past six years as one of the world’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an international speaker who helps governments, investors, multi-nationals and regulators around the world envision, build and lead an inclusive, sustainable future. A rare talent Matthew’s recent work includes mentoring Lunar XPrize teams, re-envisioning global education and training with the G20, and helping the world’s largest organisations envision and ideate the future of their products and services, industries, and countries. Matthew's clients include three Prime Ministers and several governments, including the G7, Accenture, Bain & Co, BCG, Credit Suisse, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deloitte, E&Y, GEMS, Huawei, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, Lego, McKinsey, PWC, Qualcomm, SAP, Samsung, Sopra Steria, T-Mobile, and many more.

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