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Surprising Science

New Device Measures 50 Metrics With One Drop of Blood

A piece of medical hardware the size of a business card could allow physicians and patients to quickly take stock of over 50 health metrics, from insulin to cholesterol and bacterial infections.

What’s the Latest Development?

A new piece of medical hardware can take stock of 50 different health metrics with just a single drop of blood, making an essential medical test easier to use and delivering faster results. Called the V-chip, the device is made of two thin pieces of glass partitioned by wells holding different reactants: (1) hydrogen peroxide, (2) up to 50 different antibodies to specific proteins, DNA or RNA fragments, or lipids of interest, and the enzyme catalase, (3) serum or other sample, and (4) a dye. A shift in the glass plates brings the blood into contact with the reactants in the wells. 

What’s the Big Idea?

The V-chip is about the size of a credit card and will allow doctors and patients alike to test for insulin and other blood proteins, cholesterol, and even signs of viral or bacterial infection all at the same time. Lidong Qin, Ph.D., the project’s principal investigator, said: “The V-Chip could make it possible to bring tests to the bedside, remote areas, and other types of point-of-care needs. … The sensitivity of the V-chip can be improved if narrower and longer bar channels are used. Our next steps are to make the device more user friendly and be so simple to use, it barely needs instructions.”

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