Advancements in technology are leading to surprising innovations each day. The latest is a medical diagnostic device that is made out of paper! This paper device detects biomarkers and identifies a disease by performing electrochemical analyses. The device is powered by a user’s touch and reads out the color-coded test results, thus enabling even the non-experts to understand! This portable, paper laboratory is inexpensive and can be disposed through incineration. The devices are aimed at serving untrained people who stay at remote locations, villages, and military bases who need to test for a variety of diseases without requiring water or electricity or any other equipment for that matter.
The self-powered, paper-based electrochemical devices, or SPEDs, are designed for sensitive diagnostics at the “point-of-care,” and also for patients in regions where the public has constarined access to resources or sophisticated medical equipment. These devices also contain self-pipetting test zones which can be dipped into a sample as opposed to finger-prick test. The top layer of the device is made using untreated cellulose paper which has patterned hydrophobic domains that define channels which wick up blood samples for testing.
These channels allow for accurate assays which change color to indicate the test results. SPEDs can be used to detect biomarkers such as uric acid, glucose, and L-lactate, ketones, and white blood cells. These indicate factors related to liver and kidney function, malnutrition and anemia. The future may see better and improved versions of the technology that can even detect dengue fever, malaria, yellow fever, hepatitis, and HIV.