New portable blood analyser can detect anaemia

Washington, Oct 4 (PTI)

New portable blood analyser can detect anaemia

Scientists have developed a small portable device that can detect hemoglobin levels in blood samples, and diagnose anaemia - a disease that affects about one quarter of the world's population.

Hemoglobin is a protein found in red blood cells that transports oxygen throughout the body. As the concentration of hemoglobin decreases, the body becomes starved of oxygen, often resulting in dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, and abnormal heart rate.

Blood analysers currently available measure hemoglobin by chemically rupturing the red blood cells in a sample. This technique requires hands-on expertise to prepare and run a sample, limiting the ability to monitor anaemia in many parts of the world.

"The most exciting aspect to this analyser is that it uses whole blood and does not require the additional steps and reagents to prepare a sample," said Nathan Sniadecki, associate professor at the University of Washington in the US.

The device only requires a few drops of blood for analysis, researchers said.

"You just run blood into the channel and that's it. It can be used anywhere," said Nikita Taparia, a doctoral candidate at Snaidecki's lab.

Anaemic blood transmits more light compared to normal blood, so the severity of anaemia can be measured as a ratio of transmitted to original light intensity.

To simulate anaemia, the researchers diluted blood samples with a buffer solution.

The blood analyser was effective at predicting cases of moderate to severe anaemia, defined as less than 10 grammes per decilitre of hemoglobin in a sample. The analyser did not produce any false negative results.

The primary cause of anaemia is iron deficiency, but it can co-occur with other conditions, such as malaria and genetic disorders like sickle cell.

Severe anaemia can lead to increased maternal and child mortality. It also impairs cognitive and physical development in children.

The current design is a prototype that could be integrated with other microfluidic devices to analyse whole blood samples in parallel to diagnose anaemia and other underlying factors that could contribute to the disease, researchers said.

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