State of the art lab tests currently take at least four hours to diagnose most illnesses. During that time, patients can transmit infections to others – or go home with the wrong medication. One Hamilton doctor is very close to changing that. Dr James Mahony, a researcher at St Joe’s in Hamilton, has created a prototype test that can detect dozens of viruses and bacteria in less than 20 minutes.
Here’s how it works: a swab is placed into a chamber, then flushed with fluid to release DNA particles. Those are tested for anything from strep throat to influenza to chlamydia. 20 minutes later, you have a diagnosis. As a result of the quick diagnosis, doctors would know what to prescribe almost instantly, reducing unnecessary antibiotic use. It could also prevent the spread of viruses like influenza- even ebola- because the device can go to the patient instead of the other way around.
Dr Mahony estimates the single use units will cost between 5 and 10 dollars, and if funding is secured soon, a clinical trial could be up and running by the end of 20-15.