Researchers at the Arizona State University (ASU) Biodesign Institute have created a new blood-based testing platform dubbed Multiplexed In-Solution Protein Array (MISPA), to accelerate disease detection.

The new screening method is designed to evaluate hundreds of disease markers, simultaneously assess thousands of samples, and deliver most results within a day.

The platform utilises full-length, folded proteins known as antigens that are each tagged with a unique DNA strand. These proteins detect and attach to antibodies that the immune system produces to fight infection.

According to ASU, the method can speed up, improve accuracy, and broaden population-wide disease monitoring as well as individual diagnosis.

The MISPA platform is said to be suitable for a wide range of uses, including monitoring infectious disease outbreaks, understanding population immunology, and measuring vaccination efforts.

It also has improved versatility, stability, and testing capacity in comparison to traditional procedures, the university said.

Biodesign Institute executive director Joshua LaBaer said: “There are number of medical scenarios where doctors need to test for multiple possible disease exposures to deliver the best care.

“One example would be pregnancy. Currently, this requires drawing multiple tubes of blood and conducting many separate tests.

“So we were looking to create a reliable and reproducible test that could evaluate all those exposures at once and only require a drop of blood. This technology will allow us to get there.”

In a proof-of-concept study conducted on students and employees at all ASU campuses, MISPA successfully detected responses to 39 types of bacteria and 99 viruses in more than 2,400 people.

The trial was completed in two rounds, spaced six months apart, to track the consistency of the immune response in individuals and to identify any variations due to infections or vaccinations.

Additionally, immune responses were constant when participant data was gathered again six months later, which is important for monitoring changes brought on by clinical events.

For a single run, MISPA’s present configuration allows for the analysis of up to 200 different antigens in 2,000 samples. The researchers plan to increase this capacity through future developments.