Researchers at the National University of Singapore (NUS) have developed a portable, easy-to-use device for quick and accurate screening of diseases.
This versatile technology platform called enVision can be designed to detect a wide range of diseases. They range from emerging infectious diseases (e.g. Zika and Ebola) and high-prevalence infections (e.g. hepatitis, dengue, and malaria) to various types of cancers and genetic diseases.
enVision takes between 30 minutes to one hour to detect the presence of diseases. This is two to four times faster than existing infection diagnostics methods.
In addition, each test kit costs under S$1 – 100 times lower than the current cost of conducting similar tests.
“The enVision platform works at room temperature and does not require heaters or special pumps, making it very portable," said team leader Assistant Professor Shao Huilin from the Biomedical Institute for Global Health Research and Technology (BIGHEART) and Department of Biomedical Engineering at NUS.
"With this invention, tests can be done at the point-of-care, for instance in community clinics or hospital wards, so that disease monitoring or treatment can be administered in a timely manner to achieve better health outcomes.”
Test results are easily visible – the assay turns from colourless to brown if a disease is present. It could also be further analysed using a smartphone for quantitative assessment of the amount of pathogen present. This makes enVision an ideal solution for personal healthcare and telemedicine.
“Conventional technologies require bulky and expensive equipment, as well as trained personnel to operate these machines," explained Dr Nicholas Ho, a researcher from NUS BIGHEART and A*STAR’s IMCB, and co-first author of the study.
"With enVision, we are essentially bringing the clinical laboratory to the patient. Minimal training is needed to administer the test and interpret the results. More patients can have access to effective, lab-quality diagnostics that will substantially improve the quality of care and treatment."