Toronto: Scientists have developed a USD 1 paper device that can analyse DNA to rapidly and inexpensively diagnose hepatitis B and assess male fertility.
The test could be of particular help diagnosing people in low-income areas, researchers said.
DNA analysis has become a valuable tool in forensic science, genetics and disease diagnosis. But carrying out such analyses requires expensive lab equipment, making its application out of reach for many people who live in resource-limited places.
Advances in nanomaterials, however, could make analysis of genetic material possible at a much lower cost.
David Sinton from the University of Toronto and colleagues wanted to see if they could come up with a new paper device with such nanomaterials to test DNA without the use of high-tech facilities.
The researchers made a paper-based diagnostic test out of materials that cost less than USD 1 per device.
After only a 10-minute run, the device could detect the hepatitis B virus in blood serum at a level low enough to flag an early-stage acute infection, which is critical to help prevent its spread.
It also could determine the DNA integrity of sperm - a predictor of fertility - from semen samples as accurately as current clinical methods.
The details of the test were published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.