Bioluminescent Paper Strip Could Test For Infectious Diseases Rapidly, Cheaply

An international team of researchers from the Eindhoven University of Technology has developed a method that involves a glowing paper strip, a drop of a patient’s blood, and a digital camera to test for infectious diseases in 20 minutes. The low-cost test has a lot of potential in developing countries to test for tropical diseases easily.

The test shows the presence of infectious diseases by searching for certain antibodies in the blood that the body makes in response to, for example, viruses and bacteria. Not only is the test a low-cost, rapid alternative to expensive, time-consuming laboratory measurements in hospitals, it could also have utility in regularly monitoring the dose of antibody medicines to be able to take corrective measures in good time.

“A biochemical reaction causes the underside of the paper to emit blue-green light,” says Eindhoven University of Technology professor and research leader Maarten Merkx. “The bluer the color, the higher the concentration of antibodies.” A digital camera—for example, from a cell phone—is sufficient to determine the exact color and thus the result.

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