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This Stamp-Sized Medical Lab Could Bring Hospital Services to Our Poorest

June 27, 2014
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This Stamp-Sized Medical Lab Could Bring Hospital Services to Our Poorest
In the near future, small computer chips with a drop of blood could replace a battery of tests that require an entire medical lab today. Abid Katib/Getty Images
What's more, its founders insist it'll never cost more than 10 cents.

Your smartphones and laptops aren’t the only gadgets getting smaller and sleeker as progress marches on—behold, the postage-stamp-sized medical lab.

That’s right, Harvard-affiliated biotech startup Diagnostics for All has a tool in the works that looks like a computer chip but can diagnose diseases using just a drop of blood, reports Forbes. Once it’s ready for public use, the tool will be perfectly suited for populations who live in regions lacking hospitals and electricity. What’s more, the “lab on a chip” is so inexpensive to make and use that its cost shouldn’t exceed 10 cents in developing countries.

To start, DFA is targeting the liver, with tests that allow HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis patients—whose regular medications can damage the filtering organ—to determine whether their drugs are breaking down liver cells. Slightly further down the road are tests to flag milk spoilage and pregnant cows, which it will test in an East African dairy collective, and another to spot aflatoxin, a poisonous mold that afflicts corn and other crops.

Strange as it is that everything in our lives seems to be shrinking, sometimes—as DFA evidences—that can be a very good thing.

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