Device Diagnoses Hundreds of Diseases with Single Drop of Blood
the MPR take:
The DNA Medicine Institute (DMI) recently took home the $525,000 grand prize in the Nokia Sensing XChallenge for their handheld device that has the potential to run thousands of laboratory tests using a single drop of blood in minutes. The Reusable Handheld Electrolyte and Lab Technology for Humans (rHEALTH) system began as a project for NASA astronauts for self-diagnosis of illnesses while traveling in space and will be tested first on the International Space Station. Users insert a drop of blood into the device, which then mixes with reagent nanostrips that are the size of several blood cells; each nanostrip can test for a different disease or condition by detecting biomarkers. The blood cells and nanostips are then shot at high speeds at a laser and results are ready in two minutes. Thus far the device has tests available for 22 lab values that include white blood cells, red blood cells, platelets, hemoglobin, vitamin D, cytokines, and CD4. DMI founder and CEO Eugene Y. Chan hopes that the technology will be as inexpensive as a cell phone once it is commercially available. The company is producing three rHEALTH models – one for translational research, one for clinicians, and one for consumers.
A single drop of blood carries a mind-boggling amount of information about your health. It can tell you whether you're coming down with the flu, if you have certain kinds of cancers, and if you have heart disease. It's just that the technology necessary to harness all of that information hasn't been available in the past. Soon, it will be.