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.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.