Brian Buntz

August 13, 2013

1 Min Read
Diagnostics-on-Demand Device Could Be a Game-Changer

GE Healthcare and the University of Washington are developing a novel medical device that provides on-demand detection of infectious diseases. The initiative is a collaboration with DARPA and focuses on the development of a disposable, paper-based device for use in remote areas. Researchers hope to develop a device that can detect a variety of diseases in under sixty minutes. Like a pregnancy test, the novel diagnostic will use color-changing paper.

A prototype of the field-based diagnostic system developed by the University of Washington works with a smartphone.

A prototype of the field-based diagnostic system developed by the University of Washington works with a smartphone.

GE plans to use its experience in nucleic acid analysis, device design and diagnostics materials development to create the easy-to-use handheld unit. The test is designed to activate when exposed to a nasal swab and will change color in the presence of different diseases. Scientists at GE will develop next-generate membrane materials and papers to make the device possible. In addition, GE plans to leverage commercial membranes like Whatman FTA.

Researchers will first target methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). MRSA is a significant issue at military bases, prisons and hospitals. Researchers also plan to target other bacteria, STDs and viral infections.

"As part of our program with DARPA, we're developing a small, lightweight device that a doctor could fit in their pocket. This unit could readily detect multiple pathogens in limited resource settings, such as military outposts or communities in remote areas," stated David Moore, a co-principal investigator on the project.

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