Scientists are developing a new 3D printed biomedical device that can make identifying anaemia as easy as running a blood sample from a finger prick under a smartphone, with test results being produced in less than 60 seconds.
Researchers from Kansas State University in the US are working on the low cost, point-of-care device for home use.
Point-of-care devices give the user fast, easy-to-understand results from a test performed outside of a lab, such as a blood glucose test or pregnancy test.
The device is made with a 3D printer and designed to detect anaemia for individuals who have limited access to health care, such as those living in developing countries.
Anaemia is a condition in which the blood does not have enough healthy red blood cells to transport oxygen to the body's organs.
It affects 2 billion people worldwide, including more than half of preschool children and pregnant women in developing countries and at least 30 per cent of children and women in industrialised nations.
The device consists of 3D printed clear plastic slides containing microfluidics that attach to a smartphone. The user adds a drop of their blood to a slide, which is used for a colour scale-based test, researchers said.
The test results are produced in less than 60 seconds and can be read using a smartphone, they said.
"Anaemia is a very prevalent condition in developing countries even though it is easily treated with iron supplements or vitamins and can be prevented with a healthy diet," said Kim Plevniak from Kansas State University.
"Often in these developing countries people will have much easier access to smartphones than they will to doctors and trained medical professionals," said Plevniak.