INNOVATION

New technology set to revolutionise instant medical diagnostics

University of Southampton spinout Highfield Diagnostics will promote a new technology at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show that is set to revolutionise the concept of ‘instant’ medical diagnostics.

University of Southampton spinout Highfield Diagnostics will promote a new technology at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show that is set to revolutionise the concept of ‘instant’ medical diagnostics.

Researchers from the University’s Optoelectronics Research Centre have developed the world’s first disposable test that can simultaneously perform separate diagnoses, enabling the testing of diseases or conditions such as tuberculosis, sexually transmitted infections or leishmania, a parasitic disease similar to malaria, from a single sample.

These novel, cost-effective and user-friendly tests are made possible by a laser-based approach that controls the flow of liquid samples via multiple flow channels within the paper strip inside a typical diagnostic test.

“This simple and rapid testing represents a real breakthrough in universal healthcare monitoring and diagnosis in the home, the doctor’s surgery or even off-grid rural settings in developing countries,” co-founder Professor Robert Eason explains. “The rapid diagnostics market is truly global. If we just considered the example of tuberculosis, there are 10 million people who are currently displaying active symptoms in India and a further two billion people worldwide who currently harbour the disease in its latent form.”

Highfield Diagnostics can produce tests that show an increase of sensitivity of a factor of one hundred compared to current conventional tests, so patients can know much earlier if they are suffering from a particular condition.

The team are also capable of producing tests that give quantitative results such as the low, medium or high presence of a specified disease, which represents a step change to current pregnancy tests for example, that are only able to give a yes or no result.

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