Portable blood analyzer uses light to detect anemia

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Researchers from the University of Washington have developed a portable device capable of detecting anima using optical absorbance. The blood analyzer, described in AIP Advances, aims to provide health officials around the globe with a more comprehensive view of anemia.

Anemia affects a quarter of the world’s population, causing dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath and an abnormal heart rate. Current methods of detection require experts in handling samples, which in turn limits the amount of people tested. The portable analyzer hopes to provide a quicker avenue to detection by utilizing the optical properties of blood to measure hemoglobin and detect anemia.

"The most exciting aspect to this analyzer is that it uses whole blood and does not require the additional steps and reagents to prepare a sample," said Nathan Sniadecki, associate professor in mechanical engineering at the University of Washington.

Anemic blood transmits more light then normal blood, which makes detecting the severity of the anemia easier by measuring how much light is shown. In tests on the accuracy of the analyzer, researchers found it could predict cases of moderate to severe anemia without any false negatives.

"It has been really rewarding to be part of a project from start to finish that produced a device that will really help people," said Nikita Taparia, a doctoral candidate in Snaidecki's lab and an author of the study.