When a blood transfusion is needed, time is of the essence. Conventional methods of blood type testing take 10 to 20 minutes, excluding the time it takes to transport the blood to the lab. Hospitals commonly stock type O blood because it can safely be administered to any patient due to its lack of antigens that initiate immune reactions. However, a new paper strip test could level the playing field by determining blood type on-site with 99.9% accuracy in just 30 seconds.
A recent article from New Scientist says the test was developed by scientists at China’s Third Military Medical University and could allow hospitals to stock all types of blood to alleviate the demand for type O. It works by identifying antigens present on the surface of red blood cells. The strips are “impregnated” with a grid of antibodies and dye that change color when blood is applied and travels down the strip reacting with the different antibodies. If an antibody is present, the square will turn teal; if no antibody is present, it’ll turn brown. Researchers believe the product could be on shelves within 1-2 years.