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Paper-based device could bring medical testing to remote locales

Date:
October 23, 2013
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
In remote regions of the world where electricity is hard to come by and scientific instruments are even scarcer, conducting medical tests at a doctor's office or medical lab is rarely an option. Scientists are now reporting progress toward an inexpensive point-of-care, paper-based device to fill that void with no electronics required.

An inexpensive paper-based device could bring point-of-care diagnosis and disease monitoring to remote, resource-limited places.
Credit: American Chemical Society

In remote regions of the world where electricity is hard to come by and scientific instruments are even scarcer, conducting medical tests at a doctor's office or medical lab is rarely an option. Scientists are now reporting progress toward an inexpensive point-of-care, paper-based device to fill that void with no electronics required. Their study on the extremely sensitive test, which simply relies on the user keeping track of time, appears in the ACS journal Analytical Chemistry.

Scott T. Phillips and colleagues point out that people living in places with limited resources often don't have the means to purchase and operate conventional medical tests. Such tests, conducted at a doctor's office or clinical laboratory, detect or monitor disease with a hand-held or desktop electronic device. Many of them work by measuring the levels of specific proteins in a patient's blood that can indicate a wide range of serious medical conditions, including heart attacks and certain cancers. Phillips' team wanted to develop a similar and sensitive tool to measure small amounts of disease markers that would be much less expensive, easier to operate and work without a power source.

They developed a new paper-based device that is about the size of a stick of gum. In initial experiments, they used it to detect a liver enzyme that in high amounts can suggest liver or bone problems, and another enzyme that is a marker for fecal contamination in water. After applying a sample to the device, a small white dot turns green if the enzyme is present. After a few seconds or minutes, another small white dot turns green. The longer it takes for the second dot to change color after the first, the higher the concentration of the enzyme. The device uses just a few inexpensive materials and can be altered to measure a wide range of enzymes to monitor many different conditions.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Gregory G. Lewis, Jessica S. Robbins, Scott T. Phillips. Point-of-Care Assay Platform for Quantifying Active Enzymes to Femtomolar Levels Using Measurements of Time as the Readout. Analytical Chemistry, 2013; 131014160220003 DOI: 10.1021/ac402415v

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Paper-based device could bring medical testing to remote locales." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131023112640.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2013, October 23). Paper-based device could bring medical testing to remote locales. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131023112640.htm
American Chemical Society. "Paper-based device could bring medical testing to remote locales." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131023112640.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

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