$0.50 DIY Cancer and Malaria Tests

Researchers at Ohio State University are developing technology to provide low-cost paper tests to battle the spread of disease in remote parts of the world.

DIY Test / Photo: Pam Frost Gorder, courtesy of The Ohio State University
DIY Test / Photo: Pam Frost Gorder, courtesy of The Ohio State University

50 cents may only get you a temporary tattoo now, but could one day provide early cancer detection. A recent article from Science News Journal reports on the low-cost disease and cancer test that could be as easy as an at-home pregnancy test. Chemists at Ohio State University are working to develop a paper test that requires a drop of blood from a subject before it is sent to a lab for results. The strips contain small, positively charged artificial chemical probes that make for “impeccable” detection with a mass spectrometer.

Up to a month after tests were collected, results were found to be valid, making them ideal for testing in remote rural areas. Abraham Badu-Tawiah, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at OSU, believes the strips could offer a low-cost malaria diagnostic for Southeast Asia and Africa, where the disease kills thousands each year. The technology has yet to be patented, but the university hopes to license it to medical diagnostics companies who can improve it.

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