Bandage Diagnosis

Image shows the microneedle-based skin patch from article which can be used for rapid medical testing.

Doc – it’s been two days! Where are my medical results?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

You’ve come down with a bug, so you took a blood test. Now, you’re waiting for the results AND a huge medical bill. Is there a faster — and cheaper — diagnosis? 

Meet Xue Jiang and Peter Lillehoj from Rice University. They’ve created a stick-on medical device – think: Smart Band-Aid! Their invention has sixteen tiny hollow needles and a little results window. When you stick it on, the needles poke your skin and extract fluid beneath. Sounds painful? Not really! It’s no worse than peeling a strip of tape off your arm.

Needles are the key! They transport fluid to a pad containing antibodies that react when detecting disease. Results show up in the window in about FIFTEEN minutes! The researchers are already using it to diagnose malaria! 

This pointy bandage costs just one dollar when produced in bulk. The researchers believe it will be especially helpful for remote areas far from big hospitals. 

How ‘bout an ACUPUNCTURE bandage? A somewhat large one. Ginseng-scented. 

Reference: Jiang, X., & Lillehoj, P. B. (2020). Microneedle-based skin patch for blood-free rapid diagnostic testing. Microsystems & nanoengineering6, 96.

Photo by Jeff Fitlow