A team of researchers from the Stanford University has invented a device that will prove crucial in the fight against infectious disease. The device is simple, efficient, and it costs around 20 cents to manufacture. Furthermore, its design was inspired by a children’s toy concept which has been around since 3,300 BC.
Probably the most crucial step in curing a disease, be it malaria or other infectious diseases, is being able to diagnose it properly. To be able to do that, you must have a way to test blood samples. The simplest way to test a blood sample for pathogens is by using a medical device called a centrifuge.
This device can separate blood plasma from other elements found in human blood such as nucleic acid, proteins, and cells by taking advantage of centrifugal forces. Unfortunately, such a device is expensive, and the electricity it requires to function makes it impractical for field tests.
But things are about to change. A team of scientists from the Stanford University managed to create a powerful and efficient centrifuge using nothing but two handles, a paper disc, and a string. The device is so powerful that it can separate blood plasma from other elements in just 90 seconds. Furthermore, it took the team approximately 15 minutes to identify the malaria pathogen using the makeshift centrifuge.
The principles behind this contraption are easy to understand. Two pieces of string pass through the disk centers are tied to two handles. When the operator pulls the handles, the strings begin to unwind. After the process is complete, the string start to rewind, thus creating a powerful centrifuge.
To get an idea of how powerful the makeshift centrifuge is, a motion sensor indicated that the paper centrifuge could reach a speed of 125,000 rotations per minute. Moreover, the team’s hand-spun device has been dubbed the fastest device ever to be created.
Wanting to test this amazing device in the field, the team went to Madagascar where they tested their paper centrifuge using a couple of blood samples. The results were simply astonishing – in just 15 minutes, the makeshift paper centrifuge could separate the malaria pathogen from the rest of the blood sample’s elements.
Given the fact that the centrifuge can be produced in mass, manufacturers can use a wide array of building materials such as plastic, wood, paper, and even 3D printed materials.
Image source: Wikipedia