Research Highlight

A portable, low-cost kit for a routine blood test

doi:10.1038/nindia.2020.21 Published online 4 February 2020

Using compact disc technology, researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur have developed a low-cost kit that can be used to do a complete blood count (CBC) ‒ a blood test widely used to detect various disorders, including anaemia, infections and even blood cancer1.

They say that this kit will reduce the cost of CBCs drastically, making it affordable for rural people. 

Existing techniques for performing a CBC are expensive and require sophisticated instruments. In search of a cheaper blood test, the researchers, led by Suman Chakraborty, invented the kit using a motorised spinning compact disc.

The device employs a method that exploits the difference in densities of cells for separation in transparent microfluidic channels and implements label-free imaging for counting the separated cells within the microfluidic disc.

The working of the disc.

© Suman Chakraborty

The device, running on a small motor, efficiently measured a packed volume of red blood cells, haemoglobin, white blood cells and platelet counts, and other parameters of blood with an accuracy of 95 per cent.  

It can test multiple samples on a single, reusable and biodegradable disc. Its simple design and fabrication techniques make it portable and eliminate the need for trained personnel for its operation.

Most significantly, it gets over the need for processing of the separated blood, thus showing its potential to be used as a novel point-of-care blood-test kit at a cost of 10 rupees. 

The researchers say they want to use such devices to improve the reach of telemedicine and mobile healthcare to “the last man of the society”.


References

1. Agarwal, R. et al. A portable spinning disc for complete blood count (CBC). Biosens. Bioelectron. 150 (2020) doi: 10.1016/j.bios.2019.111935