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BIDMC and Diagnostics For All create first low-cost, paper-based, point of care liver function test
Date:9/19/2012

BOSTON A new postage stamp-sized, paper-based device could provide a simple and reliable way to monitor for liver damage at a cost of only pennies per test, say researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Diagnostics For All (DFA), a Cambridge, MA nonprofit dedicated to improving the health of people living in the developing world.

"Our device is designed to use a droplet of blood from a finger prick to deliver results in 15 minutes," says co-lead author Nira Pollock, MD, PhD, an infectious diseases doctor at BIDMC and the Associate Director of the Infectious Diseases Diagnostic Laboratory at Boston Children's Hospital. "It could have significant implications around the world, particularly in developing nations where blood tests can be prohibitively expensive and the results can sometimes take weeks to return."

A research article detailing the development of the device appears in the Sept. 19 issue of Science Translational Medicine.

In developed countries, blood tests to monitor liver function are routine for patients with liver disease and those taking medications known to potentially cause liver injury. In the United States, it's standard practice to test levels of two liver enzymes that are important markers for monitoring damage to liver cells aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) in at-risk patients on treatment for tuberculosis (TB) and HIV. In those patients, elevated AST and ALT levels can indicate drug-induced liver injury (DILI) and the potential need to change or stop important medications.

Two to 33 percent of patients on TB therapy can experience DILI, as can upwards of 13 percent of HIV patients on certain medications, particularly nevirapine, which is widely used in the developing world.

The gold standard for measurement of these liver enzymes is to draw blood from a vein and send it to a lab where the serum or plasma is separated out and t
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Contact: Kelly Lawman
klawman@bidmc.harvard.edu
617-667-7305
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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