Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Colouring in Crisis
16 August 2015

Colouring in Crisis

Biomedical scientists heading to crisis zones around the world may soon be packing a tin of pencils along with their lab coats and gloves. But these are no ordinary colouring pencils – their nibs are packed with chemicals that make common laboratory tests a doddle, or perhaps a doodle. Colouring in a paper-based microfluidic device is the first step to bringing the test to life. A patient’s fluid sample is placed at the centre of the paper device and quickly floods along each of the 'spokes'. Mixing and reacting with the chemical pencil marks, the liquid changes colour giving instant medical results. Many diagnostic tests can be conducted at once, simply by decorating different spokes with different pencils. This revolutionary kit is much more portable than bulky lab equipment, and simpler to use, too – potentially making quick life-saving tests no more of a challenge than colouring within the lines.

Written by John Ankers

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