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Malaria diagnosis could take just seconds

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Breakthrough devices with the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives by slashing the time taken to diagnose meningococcal infection and malaria are among the projects being undertaken at a new nano-device research facility.

Researchers at the $1.25 million Ian Potter NanoBioSensing Facility at RMIT University in Melbourne are working on projects to vastly improve the speed, accuracy and sensitivity of diagnostic tools using nano technology.

Among other devices under development are a prototype tool to cut the time taken to detect the presence of the parasite Cryptosporidium in drinking water from five days to five minutes, as well as technologies to improve early-stage diagnosis of cancer and cardiovascular diseases, and for detecting contaminants in food and dairy products.

“Speed is critical – the quicker we can diagnose, the quicker we can ensure a patient receives the right treatment,” Facility Director Associate Professor Vipul Bansal said. “The point-of-care nano-devices we’re developing are not only inexpensive and simple to use, but also extremely sensitive, so they can give an accurate diagnosis almost instantly.”

A/Professor Bansal said the facility would enable the development of nano-devices with a wide range of applications in the detection of diseases and health hazards, including through international collaboration.

Adrian Rollins