Sunday, October 02, 2011

Blood Tests 2.0 advances with dried blood spot testing

Moving into an era of preventive medicine and health self-hacking, blood tests 2.0 is an obvious area for expected innovation, moving whole classes of blood tests from $100+ lab-administered arm draws to fingerstick tests conducted at home. One of the most promising techniques for realizing blood tests 2.0 is dried blood spot (DBS) testing. From a biochemistry perspective, the volume of blood taken in a serum draw is not required for many tests; a few drops would be adequate for many tests. Some exciting recent progress in dried blood spot testing was announced with NanoInk’s protein biomarker detection platform, based on dip pen nanolithography, which was used to identify and quantitate four clinically-relevant cytokines. The technology cannot detect everything, but could possibly be used to identify hundreds of proteins, and pave the way for low-cost home blood marker monitoring.

Home-administered fingerstick tests are already available for several markers, although the cost is not necessarily cheaper and a health care professional may still need to be involved. Blood spots from a fingerstick are placed on filter paper to dry and then sent to a lab for analysis. Tests are available for vitamin D, hormone levels (including estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, and cortisol), cardiometabolic markers (including insulin, high sensitivity C-reactive protein, total, HDL and LDL cholesterol, hemoglobin A1c, and triglycerides) from ZRT Labs. Theoretically, dozens of blood tests could be re-invented as fingerstick tests that are self-administered and interpreted in easy diagnostic readers or mobile-phone attached sensors.

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