With just one drop of blood, researchers at the AIDS Healthcare Foundation could detect HIV, malaria, tuberculosis and even some types of cancer.
New testing technology from researchers at the University of California Berkeley, Dublin City University in Ireland and Universidad de Valparaíso Chile -- a blood analysis chip -- can help automate this technique by detecting all of these diseases within 10 minutes, boosting access and immediate diagnosis.
That's a big deal for the global healthcare diagnostics industry, allowing workers to use the inexpensive plastic device to detect diseases in the field.
Better still, its design allows it to be manufactured at high volume and a low cost.
The researchers leveraged the laws of microscale physics to speed up processes that take hours or days in a conventional lab.
Here's how it works: the SIMBAS biochip uses trenches patterned underneath microfluidic channels that are approximately the width of a human hair. When whole blood is dropped onto the chip’s inlets, heavier red and white blood cells settle down into the trenches, separating from the lighter-weight clear blood plasma.
In a process called "degas-driven flow" -- which involves the pressure difference that results from the manipulation of air molecules via a vacuum -- the blood is eased through the chip. (That's "degas" as in "degasification," not the French impressionist.)
The researchers say they can use this technique to capture more than 99 percent of the blood cells in the trenches and selectively separate plasma.
In a video, CBS and CNET News reporter Kara Tsuboi has more: