We are not new to the scenario of ever increasing costs of medical exams but then what about under-privileged people? How can they go about tests and quality procedures? Let us take a look at oPAD, a paper sensor that has been touted to determine complex tests easily but more importantly affordably, so much so that the poor countries can manufacture it themselves and implement it.
The oPAD or the Paper Analytical Devices developed by scientists from University of Texas at Austin is a three dimensional paper sensor capable of detecting the presence of a particular entity from fluid samples of patient without the involvement of time consuming procedures and complex equipments. The paper sensors are manufactured with the help of a technique called photolithography and when required for tests needs to be simply hand-folded [like in origami] to a desired arrangement. Changes in color concludes positivity or negativity of the tests.
Although previously the paper sensors were available but their manufacturing was costly and they had restricted use. It involved creating separate paper sensors, use of laser to cut them and then ultimately binding them together. However Hong Liu, a research member of the Texan team contributed by firstly designing the paper sensor followed by a folding method [inspired by origami that he learnt in school] to make it work.
So what we have now is a convenient paper sensor oPAD which can be used in HIV or malaria detection in third-world countries where special equipments aren’t available. Since the production of the sensors does not involve high-end technology it could be produced there as well. The best part: each sensor is priced at around 10 cents!