As Prof. Joshua Pearce has advocated in interviews, books, and journal articles, 3D printing has the future to revolutionize the modern laboratory by dropping costs dramatically, as well as providing the means for creating entirely new lab devices. We’ve seen this play out in numerous examples which frequently use 3D printed adapters to alter smartphones into powerful pocket microscopes, resulting in methods for detecting pollution in water to detecting allergens in food. The latest comes of Kansas State University researchers who have turned a smartphone into a blood sample analyzer.
Developed by Kim Plevniak, a Master’s student in Biological and Agricultural Engineering at Kansas State University, and Mei He, Assistant Professor of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, the device is created as a method for diagnosing anemia in patients discovered in remote locations. Making use of clear, 3D printed plastic slides, the device attaches to a smartphone and uses a color scale-based test to read a blood sample, deposited onto the 3D printed slides. In less than 60 seconds, the blood can be read with a companion smartphone app.
Due to limited access to health care in developing nations, a few 2 billion folks of the world suffer of this iron deficiency. This number comes with half of preschool children and pregnant women in developing countries and around 30% of children and women in industrialized nations. Plevniak says, “Anemia is a quite prevalent condition in developing countries actually yet it is easily treated with iron supplements or vitamins and can be practuallyted with a healthy diet. Often in these developing countries folks can have much simpler access to smartphones than they can to doctors and trained medical professionals.”
The researchers have since been granted approval to start testing patient samples of the University of Kansas Medical Center to optimize the device for diagnosing various levels of anemia. With assist of Associate Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering, they can in addition be able-bodied to improve the app to manage data and send results to doctors, as well.