A new device which could offer ‘on the spot’ blood cell analysis in GP surgeries is being developed by University of Southampton researchers.
The hand-held system, which uses miniaturised electrodes to measure the electrical properties of each blood cell, could be used by GPs and practice nurses to aid disease diagnosis by measuring white blood cell counts.
It can identify the three main types of white blood cell - T lymphocytes, monocytes and neutrophils – and is faster and cheaper than current methods, the researchers said.
‘At the moment, if an individual goes to the doctor complaining of feeling unwell, a blood test will be taken which will need to be sent away to the lab while the patient awaits the results,’ said lead researcher professor Hywel Morgan, of the university’s nano research group.
‘Our new prototype device may allow point of care cell analysis which aids the GP in diagnosing acute diseases while the patient is with the GP, so a treatment strategy may be devised immediately,’ he added.
The researchers are now looking at integrating red blood cell and platelet counting into the device, which is described in a paper in Lab on a Chip this month.