What Does Your DNA Say About You?
Imagine you could discover if you had Breast Cancer or Malaria, Parkinsons Disease or even Bipolar Disorder within minutes. That's what Q-Poc claims it will be able to do. It's a handheld device the size of an iPad, designed for doctors, that uses a drop of your blood, or sputum (saliva mixed with mucus), to test for genetic markers using molecular diagnostic testing. Within 15 minutes, their device can give you an accurate reading, bringing the lab to your bedside.
But it's not just intended for these well known diseases. QuantuMDX, the company behind the Q-Poc, have a more humanitarian goal at their core. They intend to deliver affordable gold standard blood test results that would otherwise take 2-3 days, to give doctors life saving information about a patient suffering from Malaria for example.
The device works by placing a sample on a disease specific cartridge (loaded with reagents and probes specific to a disease). Then you insert it into the handheld reader, and wait just 10-15 minutes for results. In the case of Malaria, when fragments of a parasite bind to probes within the cartridge, the binding creates a corresponding electrical charge that is interpreted as a positive result.
It's intended to be a quick, cheap ($5-$20 per cartridge), user friendly, robust device, with no need for running water or stable electricity source, so that every man, woman or child can get access to quality molecular diagnostics.
23andMe are still in the midst of an FDA battle over their health-related genetic testing kit, and Q-Poc is going to have to go through the same rigorous process before doctors can be convinced of the device's accuracy. They estimate it will be 2015 before they have their device on the market with a Malaria test cartridge. The sooner the better.