The Breakthrough

Australian researchers have developed a small silicon chip coated with sharp, densely packed microneedles into a diagnostic patch that can be applied to the skin. "The concept here is that we could just put a patch on the skin and this could give a result based on what it can find in your blood," said Simon Corrie, who is leading the research. "The microneedle arrays can capture proteins that circulate around the body that are normally tested for in blood samples."  The sampled patches can then be "washed" through detection reagents.

The Implications

The device, once applied in the field, could remove the need for invasive blood extraction and lengthy diagnostic delays in laboratories. Dr Corrie believes the technology will be most useful in detecting tropical diseases in remote areas and developing countries where access to pathology labs is limited.

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