DETECTION of kidney disease could be made easier thanks to an adapted £10 device normally used to test for pregnancy. In a wonderful example of recycling, engineers in London have developed a potentially revolutionary device that could help diagnose and treat the one million people in the UK who are currently unaware that they have kidney disease.
The device created by Bio Nano Consulting is called quantitative electrochemical lateral flow assay (QELFA) and uses nanoparticles to test the patient’s urine; results are gathered within seconds and are forwarded to the patient’s surgery through mobile technology so doctors can follow how the disease is developing.
Kidney disease care in the UK is currently costing the NHS in excess of £1.4 billion, more than breast, lung, colon, and skin cancer combined. Kidney failure is diagnosed in 19 people every day in the UK but there is currently no device that can be utilised by doctors for day-to-day monitoring of kidney disease. After 90 days of diagnosis, 1 of these people will have died, 2 will have received a transplant, and 16 will be receiving dialysis treatment at a cost of over £25,000 a year.
Dr Helen Meese, report author and Head of Materials, Institution of Mechanical Engineers, London, UK said: “Nanotechnology could revolutionise the way we live our lives – it can be used in everything from food and healthcare to electronics, clothing, and cosmetics. But despite its 40 years in the public domain, the nanotechnology industry is still failing to engage with society in an open and clear way, and governments continue to lack impetus in committing to international regulation. The UK Government must provide more funding to ensure that the UK benefits fully from nanotechnology’s potential.
“The QELFA device is a brilliant example of what is possible. Using an old technology like a pregnancy tester and combining it with nanotechnology, you have a device which could not only diagnose the million people in the UK who are unaware they have kidney disease, but also help doctors effectively monitor those undergoing treatment. It could also save the NHS millions of pounds a year.”