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Add a drop of blood, and this tiny Dx device tests 50 things at once

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Researchers in Texas have come up with a device that's essentially an adaptable diagnostic tool. How so? It can measure 50 different things at once from a single blood drop. Dubbed the "V-chip," it can test for things like bacterial infection, viruses, high cholesterol, insulin levels and more. It's also pretty tiny, about the size of a standard business card, and the test's creators envision using it in the hospital, in remote areas, or any other place where care is needed.

Credit a team of scientists from The Methodist Hospital Research Institute and MD Anderson Cancer Center with the finding, and you can read about the details in the journal Nature Communications.

Lead investigator Lidong Qin told FierceMedicalDevices via email that he sees the technology as having "a huge potential for diagnosis" for all kinds of things, "which may include disease diagnostics, drug administration, bio-defense" and many other uses. He added that the research team is "still pursuing possible collaborations with companies in the market."

The device consists of two thin glass pieces, the researchers explain. Wells with hydrogen peroxide; as many as 50 different antibodies to certain proteins, DNA or RNA pieces, or lipids, and the enzyme catalase; serum; and dye sit between the glass. With one drop of blood and a shift in the glass plates, the initially separate wells are brought into contact creating a series of end-to-end zigzags.

Once a substance being tested binds to antibodies on the glass slide, there is a mass chain reaction. The catalase becomes active and then converts the hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen gas, in a process known as enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay--ELISA for short. The oxygen levels rise, and the dye is pushed up the slide, the distance being determined by how much of the substance being tested for is present, the researchers explain.

While work on the test continues, Qin notes that the process produces a bar chart that clinicians can read easily--a diagnostic that is both affordable and prolific.

- read the release
- check out the journal article

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