Researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands and Japan’s Keio University have developed a glow-in-the-dark paper strip for quick detection of infectious diseases.
The new testing approach requires only a paper strip, blood sample and a digital camera, making it cost-effective and fast compared to laboratory measurements in the hospital.
It is designed to identify the presence of certain antibodies made by the body in response to infections. This makes the test useful for monitoring the dose of antibody-based drugs.
Eindhoven University of Technology professor and research leader Maarten Merkx said: “A biochemical reaction causes the underside of paper to emit blue-green light. The bluer the colour, the higher the concentration of antibodies.”
The colour is emitted due to a ‘luminous sensor protein’ embedded into the paper strip. When a blood drop comes into contact with this protein, a reaction that produces blue light is triggered.
In the second step of the reaction, the blue light is converted into green light. However, this step is blocked in the presence of an antibody, allowing the detection of infectious diseases based on the light emitted.
The ratio of blue and green light can also be used to determine the concentration of antibodies.
During trials, researchers were able to confirm the use of the prototype test to simultaneously assess for HIV, flu and dengue fever antibodies.
The test is expected to be commercially launched within a few years. It is believed to have the potential to be used in developing countries to easily detect tropical diseases.