While most blood tests require shipping a vial of blood to a laboratory for analysis and waiting several days for the results, a new device invented by Mohammad Faghri, from the University of Rhode Island (Rhode Island, USA), and colleagues uses just a pinprick of blood in a portable device that provides results in less than 30 minutes. With the new lab-on-a-chip technology, a drop of blood is placed on a plastic polymer cartridge smaller than a credit card and inserted into a shoebox-sized biosensor containing a miniature spectrometer and piezoelectric micro-pump. The blood travels through the cartridge in tiny channels 500 microns wide to a detection site where it reacts with preloaded reagents enabling the sensor to detect certain biomarkers of disease. Compared to similar devices in development elsewhere, the URI system is much smaller, more portable, requires a smaller blood sample, and is less expensive. The team submits that: “This development is a big step in point-of-care diagnostics, where testing can be performed in a clinic, in a doctor's office, or right at home. No longer will patients have to wait anxiously for several days for their test results. They can have their blood tested when they walk into the doctor's office and the results will be ready before they leave."
“URI engineering team invents lab-on-a-chip for fast, inexpensive blood tests.” University of Rhode Island, 10 January 2011.
German team reports that magnesium supplementation may improve sensitivity to insulin and help reduce the risk of diabetes in overweight people.
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