A new blood test that completely eliminates the need for a painful needle prick is slated to hit the markets as soon as next year. For those who are petrified of sitting in a doctor’s chair and watching as the nurse pierces your arm to draw blood, take solace as well. This new blood test is completely self-administrable.
Developed by Tasso Inc., a U.S-based company run by graduates of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the revolutionary blood test appears to be a simple Ping-Pong ball-sized device that has to be merely held up against the skin for two minutes. The blood is “sucked” into an attached tube by using a slight vacuum.
The blood sample gets sealed instantly and can then be sent to the laboratory or GP for the tests. The “slight vacuum” is generated by the principles of fluid dynamics, explained vice president and co-founder of Tasso Inc., Ben Casavant.
“The technology relies on the forces that govern the flow of tiny fluid stream. At these scales, surface tension dominates over gravity, and that keeps the blood in the channel no matter how you hold the device.”
In simpler words, the Ping-Pong ball shaped self-administrable blood test device makes ideal use of physics, explained Maddie Stone,
“Rather than puncturing a vein, when the user holds this device against his or her skin, it creates a slight vacuum that immediately starts to pull blood from many microscopic open channels called capillaries.”
“During the process, capillary action – the same physics that causes water to wick up paper – beckons blood into an attached collection container. The device can currently extract about 0.15 cubic centimetres of blood, enough for most routine lab analyses, including cholesterol, infection, cancer cells and blood sugar tests.”
The blood test device has been sponsored by U.S Defence’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), who put in $3 million dollars. Volunteers who agreed to have their blood drawn, confirmed the test is “almost painless”. The product is under the watchful eye of the U.S Food and Drug Administration, whose approval means the product can be mass-produced commercially and sold not just to institutions, but to anyone who wishes to send in blood, but are afraid of the needle prick.
The developers do admit that the present challenge is to figure out how to keep the blood at an optimal temperature for the trip to the lab, without ice. It is interesting to see painless, non-invasive medical tests flooding the market.
[Image Credit | Reuters, Tasso Inc.]