Medical firm develops Zika test that requires just one drop of blood

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The last time a company asked for a single drop of your blood, things didn’t end so well (sorry, Theranos). But now, there’s another startup abiding by the same principle. Instead of promising a whole host of tests from a tiny pinprick of your finger, however, BluSense Diagnostics says it can detect both Dengue fever and the Zika virus. The Danish-Taiwanese company, like Theranos, only needs a tiny bit of your blood from your finger, and claims to be able to quickly diagnose these two diseases.

As per the startup’s website, BluSense combines “biomarker quantification with portability, affordability, and ease of use,” thereby helping healthcare providers to “increase their diagnostics capacity, and to monitor, control, and manage virus outbreaks.” Sure, Zika may not be making headlines for the time being (thank goodness), but that isn’t to say that the disease has been conquered. In fact, the CDC reported  121 instances of infected people within the U.S. in the first five months of 2017 alone, and as such, ensuring that the virus does not spread further is certainly a concern.

So how does it work?

Patients are asked to prick their finger, whereupon a drop of blood is drawn into a plastic cartridge and mixed with magnetic nanoparticles. This sample is then placed into the BluSense machine, which features a small centrifuge that spins the sample for nine minutes. Finally, the blood is scanned with a blue laser (hence the name), and results are ready to be read. Oh, and as it turns out, that blue laser is the same kind that actually reads your Blu-ray discs.

Should the BluSense be adopted by medical facilities, it could mean huge cost savings for patients and providers alike, as the tests could be run for just $20 per person. BluSense is currently working with the FDA to get its Zika diagnostic test approved, while the Dengue test has already been given the green light.