Cheap Strips Worth 50 Cents Can Detect Cancer and Malaria From Home

Zarmeen Shahzad
Posted Jul 3, 2016
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Feeling sick? Go to the doctor. Get a quick check up. Sounds simple, right? Don’t be so sure. Doctors and medical services aren’t always available quickly and conveniently especially in third world countries and remote areas. In such cases, there are chances that your condition might get worse if not immediately diagnosed. Cheap home testing kits are hence becoming essential and are in huge demand in the market.

50 cent strips from Ohio State University can detect cancer and malaria from your home

The US is among those countries where extensive research and development is being carried out to develop inexpensive and quick ways to diagnose diseases. The US has only very recently come up with one such method; paper strips that can help in the detection of diseases like cancer and malaria. This seems pretty convenient.

The concept is simple, rather than going to specialized labs for blood tests etc, these paper strips will ease the extensive process. You just have to place a drop of blood on the strip and mail it to any laboratory that will carry out the test. The laboratory will contact you if the results are positive and arrange an appointment; otherwise you have nothing to fear.

The Chemist Abraham Badu Tawiah from Ohio State University is behind this simple yet amazing idea. He said, “We want to empower people. If you care at all about your health and you have reason to worry about a condition, then you don’t want to wait until you get sick to go to the hospital. You could test yourself as often as you want.”

The idea was at first only for testing malaria, but later Badu Taiwah claimed that the strips can work for any disease for which the body is able to produce antibodies. Ovarian cancer and cancer of the large intestine are among these diseases.

Each strip is approximately the size of a small postage stamp. These tiny sheets are made from sheets of white paper, joined by adhesive tape and run through an inkjet printer. The strips are hence covered in wax ink that helps in the creation of small channels that are able to store the blood sample effectively.

It just doesn’t end here. Ionic probes present in the paper carrying a positive charge allow mass spectrometer readings. These probes also help protect the sample from light, changes in temperature and humidity. These probes aren’t simple probes. They are specially designed for tagging specific antibodies that carry signs of the disease. The probes can ensure that the sample remains ‘healthy’ for about 30 days. The team is currently working to making the tests more advanced by increasing sensitivity. This would allow the usage of urine and saliva instead of blood.

Will these strips make a difference and when will we get our hands on these strips?

Badu Taiwah has claimed that this is an extremely valuable element for medical care and can be of huge benefit to those for whom medical care isn’t always accessible. The low cost of the strips can be beneficial to both developed and developing countries. The current price of the strips is only 50 US cents but is expected to go down further as soon as mass production starts.

The researchers have been successful in using the strips for detection of both ovarian cancer and malaria. Their current intentions are to license the technology to a medical diagnostics company so that they can carry out clinical tests within 3 years.

These strips may be new, but one can easily see that there is huge potential in this technology. Who knows that this could be another medical breakthrough that makes the lives of people easier?
The findings can be found in the Journal of the American Society.

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