New Blood Testing Method Could Make Analysis Cheaper and More Accessible for Patients

Researchers at the University of South Florida have developed a blood test that may improve diagnosis for many diseases, including HIV and Lyme disease, reports EurekAlert. The new test uses a mobile phone for sample analysis, rather than the large, expensive, and slow equipment used at the moment.

Currently, these diseases are identified using the Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) test, but it is hoped that the new method of analysis, Mobile Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay (MELISA), will make the process easier. ELISA is a highly accurate test that involves a biochemical analysis of certain hormones and proteins through blood work and urinalysis tests that require large technical equipment. This makes the testing process prolonged and costly for patients, who often wait several weeks for results.

In comparison, MELISA is a mobile form of ELISA that requires less equipment and could be carried out in a doctor’s office or clinic, or remotely, rather than at a hospital. MELISA is used to measure progesterone levels. Progesterone is a steroid hormone involved in regulating female fertility processes, including menstrual cycles, pregnancy, and menopause, and measuring its level in patients can be used to detect some cancers. The new MELISA test uses a water bath heater to incubate patient samples at a specific and constant temperature, before carrying out colour analysis using photographs taken on a mobile phone. Colour analysis identifies the green, blue, and red colour components of the sample. Since the blue component is particularly sensitive to progesterone level changes, it then undergoes additional analysis. The equipment needed for this entire process only weighs one pound, making it significantly more portable than the current technology.

By carrying out the analysis in this way, testing becomes much more affordable, quick, and easily available to patients. It would allow the tests to be carried out during routine doctors’ check-ups, rather than by special hospital visits. It is hoped that this could lead to an earlier diagnosis for some patients, which may improve the overall prognosis.
Two groups who have been identified as particularly benefiting from this improvement on the old test are older patients with chronic conditions, and people living in remote areas who may be unable to easily access a hospital for testing. The researchers behind MELISA are currently working on adapting it for a range of other tests, including of testosterone. Following this, they hope to apply for FDA approval so the device can begin to be introduced to clinics.

Anna Hewitt

Anna Hewitt

Anna is from England and recently finished her undergraduate degree. She has an interest in medicine and enjoys writing. In her spare time she likes to cook, hike, and hang out with cats.

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