Instant diagnosis identifies bad blood

Oxford Biosensors are to develop hand-held devices with disposable test strips that can measure the presence and quantity of numerous substances found in tiny drops of fluid such as blood or saliva.

The technology will enable testing to be carried out on low cost strips that are no larger than glucose strips currently used by diabetics. It is believed that the testing process will only take a few moments.

Some serious illnesses that require fast diagnosis and treatment generate chemical markers present in blood that could be identified by such a device. Developing test strips that identify the markers for a specific disease would help medics operating in areas remote from laboratories to make quick decisions regarding treatment.

Similarly, paramedics transporting a casualty to hospital will be able to identify the presence of an anomaly. The results can be communicated to a medic who can prepare for treatment in advance and save valuable time for the patient.

Faster and simpler diagnosis carried out at the point of care should result in lower treatment costs for the NHS, claim Oxford Biosensors.

It is envisaged that this technology will be utilised in fields outside of medicine. Athletes may be able to measure a number of parameters to determine if their exercise regime could be improved through the measurement of a number of blood metabolites.

The core technology for the strips resulted from the integration of Enzyme development, Electrochemistry and Physical micro-engineering within Oxford University’s Departments of Engineering and Chemistry.

Neil Butler, MD of Oxford Biosensors, was upbeat when he said: ‘We have world-class scientific knowledge in our field and there is no technology like this in the market today.’