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Scientists Create ‘Harry Potter’ Inspired, Easy-To-Read Blood Tests
By Anthea Quay, 07 May 2012
Inspired by Tom Riddle’s diary from the film adaptation of J K Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, researchers from Monash University in Australia have created a paper that can tell a person’s blood type in text.
The low-cost sensor is made from a tiny piece of paper coated with a water-repellent layer—except for the four windows marked with the blood type letters, that are filled with antibodies, to interact with the red blood cells.
The paper-based sensor is able to perform quick ABO and rhesus (positive or negative) tests—classing samples according to A, B, AB or O types and spelling out whether the type is rhesus positive or negative.
When a drop of blood touches the sensor, the antigens in the blood react with the antibodies in the sensor and clots—which the sensor then displays the types of antigens present (A or B, or both AB), or if the blood has no antigens at all (O, which the paper will display as ‘X’).
The results remain even after the sensors are rinsed.
Associate Professor Wei Shen at the Monash University Faculty of Engineering said that such low-cost and easy to understand sensors could help non-experts interpret results easily, and be used in disease screening, medical emergencies and disaster response.
“Where sensors such as these are used in developing regions for large-scale disease screening, even if we can fabricate sensors that are robust enough to function under unsupported field conditions, misinterpretation of results may be a significant factor compromising the value of low-cost diagnostic sensors,” Professor Shen said in a statement.
“In the film Harry Potter interrogates Tom Riddle’s diary by writing on a page of paper in the Diary ‘Do you know anything about the Chamber of Secrets?’; and the paper responded with a ‘Yes’ in writing,” Professor Shen also added.
“The artist’s vision showed us that non-conventional mechanisms for reporting results using paper-based sensors should be explored. And now we have been able to create that same unambiguous response with a blood test.”
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