Delivery Vehicle for Rapid Low-Cost Medical Infectious Disease Diagnostic Tests: Portable Paper Diagnostic Dispenser for Developing Countries
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Infectious diseases still plague much of the developing world. Rapid and accurate diagnosis of diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV is critical for improved control and management allowing for targeted and effective treatment. The Whitesides Research Group led by George Whitesides, the Woodford L. and Ann A. Flowers University Professor at Harvard, has developed a low-cost paper based diagnostic test that follows the principles of microfludics using paper’s inherent channels and natural capillary action. The first application that the Whitesides paper diagnostic test will perform is liver toxicity screening. The printing method for these diagnostic tests will model the newspaper press print format for efficient and speedy production. The Whitesides Group intends the test results to be analyzed using telemedicine. Camera phones will transmit images of the test to a lab where a doctor or a computer can make a diagnosis. The key area that has not yet been explicitly defined is the method of packaging, distribution, and portability of the paper diagnostic test squares. The proposed paper diagnostic dispenser will make the tests portable which will increase access to diagnostic tools in the developing world. Heath care volunteers will be able to carry the tests in a simple container and dispense test squares as needed. This device increases the mobility of health care workers, requires little to no training to use, and facilitates the decentralization of health care services in developing countries.