Paper Diagnostics
Harvard scientist has developed a versatile and low cost test that can detect infectious or chronic diseases with only a tiny sample of urine or blood.The finished devices are squares of paper roughly the size of postage stamps. The edge of a square is dipped into a urine sample or pressed against a drop of blood, and the liquid moves through channels into testing wells. Depending on the chemicals present, different reactions occur in the wells, turning the paper blue, red, yellow, or green. A reference key is used to interpret the results.

Paper tests, such as those shown here, could make it possible to diagnose a range of diseases quickly and cheaply. A small drop of liquid, such as blood or urine, wicks in through the corner or back of the paper and passes through channels to special testing zones. Substances in these zones react with specific chemicals in the sample to indicate different conditions; results show up as varying colors. These tests are small, simple, and inexpensive.

A reference key is used to interpret the results, elaborates the study from Technology Review, to be launched by noted policy maker M.G.K. Menon.The ability to perform many more tests and even carry out two-step reactions with a single sample will enable the device to detect diseases (like malaria or HIV) that require more complicated assays, such as those that use antibodies.

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