GE will leverage its deep domain expertise in diagnostics materials development, nucleic acid analysis, and device design to help develop a handheld unit that is easy to pick-up and use. The fully-disposable device will be paper-based and will include no complex instrumentation. The test will be activated once exposed to a nasal swab, and in less than an hour, will change color to indicate the presence of different target diseases.“We want this to be as simple as a pregnancy test, where sample preparation to read-out is all done within the device with minimal user intervention,” Moore continued. As part of this program, GE scientists will be developing next-generation paper and membrane materials, while also utilizing a suite of commercial papers and membranes, including Whatman FTATM. The first disease researchers will target is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, a drug-resistant bacterium responsible for hard-to treat infections. MRSA is especially problematic in institutional settings, like hospitals prisons, and military bases, where people generally live in close quarters. Fast diagnosis is key because MRSA infections can worsen rapidly, and in less than a week, take hold in human tissue and become very difficult to treat. In addition to MRSA, the device GE is researching would be built to quickly detect a broad range of pathogens, including sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and various viral infections. “Ideally any disease could be detected, provided the target’s DNA and/or RNA could be isolated, purified, amplified, and detected,” Moore added. Moore continued, “The team is excited about this effort and the difference it could make. There’s a strong desire to see the technology commercialized and used at clinics, hospitals, and the military health system, and eventually in the field and at home.” GE also envisions primary market opportunities in hospitals, clinics and doctor’s offices, where this device could be used to render point-of-care diagnosis.
In 2011, GE scientists began work on a related DARPA-funded program, in conjunction with InDevR, to build a device to improve flu diagnosis at point-of-care. This device would confirm a patient’s flu status at the doctor’s office, without the need to send samples to an outside lab for testing. The device could also prove valuable at remote military bases or the site of a humanitarian mission where health officials are dealing with a major pandemic. Read more at: http://www.genewscenter.com/Press-Releases/GE-and-InDevR-Scientists-Developing-Breakthrough-Device-to-Improve-Diagnosis-of-Flu-at-the-Point-of-3694.aspxAbout GE Global Research GE Global Research is the hub of technology development for all of GE's businesses. Our scientists and engineers redefine what’s possible, drive growth for our businesses, and find answers to some of the world’s toughest problems. We innovate 24 hours a day, with sites in Niskayuna, New York; San Ramon, California; Bangalore, India; Shanghai, China; Munich, Germany; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Visit GE Global Research on the web at www.ge.com/research. Connect with our technologists at http://edisonsdesk.com and http://twitter.com/edisonsdesk . The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.