The smart-based blood clot testing developed by scientists at the University of Washington involves a low-cost plastic device.
Most people don't think much about blood thinners until they or a loved one experiences a medical emergency, such as a heart attack or a serious cut. In such cases, blood flow to the injured area must be as unrestricted as possible. But when you're on the drug warfarin or any other blood-thinning medication, your dosage must be closely monitored. Most people get their medication through a routine blood test, but those with more complicated needs must visit the doctor or pharmacy periodically to have their dosage adjusted.
Researchers are working on a smart technology that can measure blood-thinning medication levels in the body, and the technology may be available for consumers in the future.
In search of an easier and more immediate way to test their blood for blood clots, scientists at the University of Washington set out to bring such a test to the patient's smartphone. The resulting prototype system is a plastic contraption mounted on one end of a phone, with a small cup suspended below the phone's camera.
Each test requires the user to insert a drop of blood in the cup, along with a small copper particle and a chemical that induces blood to clot. The phone's vibration is then activated via an app, which shakes the cup and its contents.
The smartphone's camera monitors the movement of the copper particle. When the particle stops moving it indicates that the blood is clotted.
As a result, the program may compute a patient's "prothrombin time" (PT), or the time it takes for a clot to develop, as well as their "international normalized ratio" (INR), which is dependent on their PT. If the PT/INR is not within a safe range, the patient should contact their doctor.
The prototype system has already been tested on blood samples drawn from 80 anonymous patients, with the results showing that it provides an accurate reading in the accuracy range of those obtained via traditional testing techniques.
The scientists are now working to further improve the system's functionality and efficiency. The hope is to bring such testing directly to the patient's smartphone, reducing the need for traditional medical facilities and making care more accessible to those who need it most. (Via)