New technology aims to be the first to detect all three major strains of hepatitis simultaneously
Researchers in the UK and China are joining forces to develop a graphene-based sensor for on-the-spot diagnosis of hepatitis A, B and C. Particularly useful in areas with a high incidence of the highly infectious liver disease, such as China, the sensor could help stop the spread of hepatitis by speeding up diagnosis and allowing treatment to start more quickly.
Currently, hepatitis is estimated by the World Health Organisation to result in 1.4million deaths per year. The disease leads to chronic infection, resulting in liver cancer and cirrhosis which lead to a million deaths per year, 40 per cent of which are in China. Diagnosis is currently by blood test, but this takes five to seven days, during which patients are still infectious. Moreover, because blood tests require trained medical personnel, they are expensive.
Graphene can be tailored to detect the antibodies associated with specific strains of hepatitis, and sensors currently exist to detect one strain. The new research, involving the UK’s National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and National Measurement Institute; the University of Chongqing; Swansea University; and Chinese industry partner CTN, aims to integrate graphene sensors for hepatitis A, B and C in a single device that can be used on a patient’s saliva and will give a fast, non-invasive test that can be administered by non-medically trained personnel. The researchers are aiming for a device similar to a blood-glucose meter or pregnancy test.
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Source: The Engineer