A group of Indian scientists have developed a new device to instantly test hemoglobin in blood.
The device is portable, low-cost, and easy-to- use, and capable of testing hemoglobin from a single drop of blood in less than 30 seconds. In a conventional set up to measure hemoglobin, a clinician is required to draw blood for testing. The sample has to be transported to a lab where test results are accessible to a doctor after almost 4 hours.
With the new device, researchers say, the test can be performed in a clinic itself and results obtained immediately. Hemoglobin testing important to detect anemia particularly during pregnancy as it can increase the risk for preterm delivery. The device can be useful in rural areas where lab facilities may not be available.
Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore in collaboration with scientists from Path Shodh Healthcare, Anand Diagnostics Laboratory, and Samatvam Diabetes Endocrinology Centre, Bangalore have published their results in scientific journal Nature Scientific Reports.
The device is based on two reagents – pyridine and imidazole – belonging to azaheterocyclic family of compounds that help in direct sensing of hemoglobin by electrochemical sensors in the device. It uses disposal strips for loading a drop of blood, eliminating the risk for diseases such as HIV. It has been tested on more than 100 clinical samples. The device can effectively measure hemoglobin in a range of 0.5 to 20.8 gram per deciliter blood in less than a minute, the study says.
“It is expected to have a big impact on public health for the diagnosis of anemia, especially in underdeveloped countries of the world,” say scientists. According the WHO, almost 58% of pregnant women in India are anemic, which accounts for 20–40% of maternal deaths. Since the new device has no special storage or handling requirements, it can be easily used in rural settings.