Nose pickers rejoice! Next time someone catches you digging for treasure, there’s no need play the old “I’m just scratching” card. Now you can confidently fire back the snappy retort that your excavating is actually highly regarded in the medical science field.
That excuse may not convince your accusers or absolve your dirty habits, but it’s a great segue into the work of GE researcher Davide Moore. In collaboration with scientists from the University of Washington, Moore and his team are designing sheets of disposable “intelligent” paper that can detect multiple pathogens from a single nasal swab.
Moore and company’s efforts arose out of the often long wait for medical test results, which can amplify a patient’s anxiety, delay diagnosis and slow recovery. The smart paper Moore and his team are working on would be no bigger than a deck of cards and could diagnose disease within an hour. The paper would change color and the array of spots seen on the strip could be read using a smartphone app.
“We live in an on-demand world, where news and information are instantaneous,” Moore said in a press release. “We wanted to know whether we could do the same for diagnosing infectious diseases where early detection is so critical to positive patient outcomes.”
Diagnostic card kits that collect, preserve and stabilize drops of blood and saliva, and specks of DNA and cells have already been developed by GE scientists. Such kits have inspired this next generation of smart papers and membranes that can preserve and analyze nasal swabs. “We want this to be as simple as a pregnancy test,” Moore said.