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Home Tests for Malaria and Cancer Doable with Cheap Paper Strips

Jun 29, 2016 10:35 AM EDT
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Home testing of various diseases, including cancer, may get a lot easier and cheaper following the lead of a new malaria diagnostic system. Ohio State University (OSU) broke the news that its laboratory is developing paper strips that can detect diseases like malaria as easily as using a drugstore pregnancy test.

Not everyone can afford hospital medical tests, and that's particularly true of the impoverished living in developing countries. The OSU chemists said that their system will make it affordable for anyone to get medically tested, at costs as low as 50 cents per strip.

Abraham Badu-Tawiah from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at OSU offered an explanation of the detection procedure.

"To get tested, all a person would have to do is put a drop of blood on the paper strip, fold it in half, put it in an envelope and mail it," he said. A person could easily apply the blood sample at home, with no need to visit a clinic. Samples would be sent out to a designated laboratory following a regular schedule. Only if a strip tested positive for disease would the testee have to consult a doctor.

The OSU researchers' investigation showed that the test remained accurate even after a month had passed since the fresh blood sample was applied to the strip. This makes it a boon to healthcare workers providing medical services to populations in underdeveloped and remote areas. The paper strip test could prove a vital weapon to combat the scourge of malaria, which threatens many communities in rural parts of Africa and southeast Asia

Malaria is not the only disease that can be more effectively fought using the new diagnostic system. The research team claimed that the test can be reconfigured to detect any kind of antibody-producing disease, including types of ovarian and intestinal cancer.

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