Adding to 3D printing’s growing list of impressive feats, researchers at Kansas State University recently developed a 3D printed device that can detect anaemia within seconds. The low-cost diagnostic device works when paired with a smartphone app and is beneficial to people with only limited access to healthcare. It can also be a revolutionary point-of-care solution for the developing countries, where more than half the pregnant women and preschool children are reportedly anaemic.
The diagnostic device is made of 3D printed plastic slides that contain microfluidics. Users only have to add a drop of their blood on the slide and attach it to the smartphone. Within 60 seconds, the app can produce an accurate result using a color scale based test. Just as is the case with pregnancy and glucose tests, the process does not require a physician to make the diagnosis.
The device was developed by Kim Plevniak, a Master’s student in biological and agricultural engineering at the University and Mei He, assistant professor for the same course.
The 3D printing technology has enabled the researchers to keep production costs low. The team spent over a year designing a relatively inexpensive 3D printed prototype for the device. Recently, they also won the approval to conduct clinical tests on patients from the University of Kansas Medical Center, allowing them to further improve on the device and optimize it for real-world diagnostic performance. They have also applied for an invention disclosure with the Kansas State University Research Foundation for the proof-of-concept device.
Once fully developed, the 3D printed device will help diagnose the disease and save millions of lives worldwide, proving the real-world applications of 3D printing yet again.
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