Tiny blood card offers easier tests for remote areas
A cheap and portable blood test could provide a breakthrough for diagnosing infections in remote areas of the world, a scientific study says.
The mChip is about the size of a credit card and can diagnose infections within minutes, according to a study in the journal Nature Medicine.
Prototype tests for diseases such as HIV and syphilis in Rwanda showed almost 100% accuracy, it said.
The US-developed device has a projected cost of $1 (60p).
This would make it much cheaper than the lab-based tests currently used.
The plastic chip contains 10 detection zones, and can test for multiple diseases with only a pinprick of blood.
Results can be seen with the naked eye or with a low-cost detector.
"The idea is to make a large class of diagnostic tests accessible to patients in any setting in the world, rather than forcing them to go to a clinic to draw blood and then wait days for their results," said Samuel Sia, a professor at New York's Columbia University who is a lead developer of the device.
Hundreds of tests using a prototype of the device were carried out in Kigali, Rwanda. They showed 95% accuracy for HIV and 76% accuracy for syphilis, the study says.
Researchers hope to use the mChip to help increase testing of sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) in pregnant women, particularly in Africa.
A version of the device has also been designed to test for prostate cancer.