Scientists at GE Global Research, the technology development arm of the General Electric, in collaboration with a team based at the University of Washington are currently developing a small, light-weight device that can detect a wide range of diseases in less than an hour.
The fully-disposable device will be paper-based and will include no complex instrumentation.
The test will be activated once exposed to a nasal swab, and in less than an hour, will change color to indicate the presence of different target diseases, similar to a pregnancy test.
GE scientists will be developing next-generation paper and membrane materials and also utilize a suite of commercial papers and membranes, including Whatman FTATM.
The device would be able to readily detect multiple pathogens in limited resource settings, such as military outposts or communities in remote areas.
University of Washington chair of bioengineering professor Paul Yager said, "We’re very excited about this team’s unique ability to combine new designs for paper-based microfluidics with new nucleic amplification methods and GE’s novel paper chemistries to help develop the first fully-disposable versatile pathogen identification technology for use in the developed and developing worlds."
Other collaborators in the project, which is funded by an 18-month, $9.6m grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), include Seattle Children’s, Epoch Biosciences, and PATH.
The program with DARPA is focused on creating an instrument-free, paper-based, fully-disposable device for use in remote areas where access to medical diagnostic equipment is limited.