The ability to conduct a quick diagnosis is important in industries ranging from personal healthcare to agriculture, and new nanotechnology could be about to give them the power to do this.
A metal cube the size of a toaster is about to revolutionise some very important markets such as point-of-care medicine and the livestock industry. The portable device can perform the same genetic tests as most fully equipped modern laboratories in a fraction of the time.
At the core of the device, which has been dubbed the ‘Domino’, is a plastic chip developed with nanotechnology that can determine if diseases are present or if a patient is resistant to cancer drugs.
A team at the University of Alberta, Canada, has created the ‘Domino’ and Edmonton-based start-up Aquila Diagnostic Systems licensed the technology.
‘We’re replacing millions of dollars of equipment that would be in a conventional consolidated lab with something that costs pennies to produce and is field-portable so you can take it where needed,’ explains Jason Acker, an associate professor at the university and chief technology officer of Aquila.
Each device performs its own genetic tests and it takes less than an hour to produce one chip, which means it would be possible to screen large populations in a short time.
According to the creators, the two main selling points are affordability and portability. Each box is expected to cost about $5,000 (£3,200) and each chip a few dollars. Its first target market is the livestock industry.
Aquila president David Alton says, ‘We see a huge potential market for the technology and we’re looking at applying the technology first in Alberta and then globally.’