A new way to make cheaper, sticky paper Dx

A new advance in diagnostics research could help make basic paper tests cheaper and more accessible.

University of Washington bioengineer Daniel Ratner and his team came up with the innovation, coming up with a way to make regular, every day paper stick to "medically interesting" molecules, as the researchers explain. That's a big advance that could affect everything from pregnancy tests to diagnostics for diseases such as diabetes and malaria. Details are published in the American Chemical Society journal Langmuir.

Here's why: many paper-based diagnostics use a more expensive, sticky membrane known as nitrocellulose. But the scientists used the industrial solvent divinyl sulfone instead, and accomplished the same effect by applying it to regular paper, And while the end result doesn't feel sticky, the experimental paper still sticks to everything including proteins, antibodies, DNA and sugars.

That's a big deal because divinyl sulfone is decades old and really, really cheap, the researchers explain. In theory, the chemical could replace the use of nitrocellulose and help to drastically reduce the cost of paper diagnostics as a result. That kind of savings could help increase their accessibility in the U.S. and around the world. It's something to consider in a health care climate where reducing costs and maintaining quality has become key.

- read the release
- here's the journal abstract

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