Scientists make life-saving lab using paper and sticky tape

December 11th, 2008 - 4:43 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Dec 11 (ANI): A group of scientists has used paper and some bits of carpet tape to make a portable testing kit that could revolutionise medical care in poor countries.

Diagnosis for many diseases relies on tests of body fluids, such as for sugar in urine or viral proteins in mucus, reports New Scientist.

Already scientists have automated some of these tests in “labs on a chip” that pipe biological samples through tiny channels into cavities containing reagents that change colour to reveal the result.

However, the only drawback is that these microfluidic devices are expensive and fragile.

But now, George M. Whitesides and his Harvard University colleagues have cut precise patterns of tiny channels in sheets of paper and interleaved them with double-sided carpet tape laser-drilled with corresponding patterns of holes.

The paper wicks water along the channels, making pumps unnecessary, and the holes connect paper layers to form a three-dimensional maze.

When samples are applied to one side of the device, they end up in chambers, which already contain reagents for different substances.

Using the prototype, the researchers could successfully measure sugar in urine, but in principle the device could do many tests at once.

Then, a photo of the coloured dots that reveal the results could be sent by cellphone to a specialist centre for diagnosis.

The devices being light, cheap and rugged are certainly a good news for healthcare in poor countries. (ANI)

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