Portable device to diagnose flu at the point-of-care

Researchers at GE Global Research (Niskayuna, NY) have been awarded a program through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a medical device that can diagnose the flu and other infectious diseases like malaria, E. coli, and salmonella at the point-of-care, and accurately.

The GE researchers will partner with InDevR (Boulder, CO) to develop the device, which will be highly portable, easy to use, and require little training. The device will enable analysis of patient samples at the doctor’s office, a remote military base, or the site of a humanitarian mission responding to a major healthcare pandemic, explains Erin Finehout, a lead engineer at GE Global Research and principal investigator on the DARPA project.

Another key goal for the device is to make it readily adaptable for recognizing new strains of the flu and other infectious diseases. Finehout explains this could be achieved if it can simultaneously analyze multiple types of biomolecules (DNA, RNA, and protein) in a patient sample. Most diagnostic platforms are only designed to work with one of these types of molecules. This versatility will allow for system that not only can be readily modified to recognize new strains, but also diagnose a wide variety of different diseases—something not yet possible in devices available today.


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