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MicroKit Simplifies Infectious-Disease Detection

The Wall Street Journal Asia, 13 Jul 2011

EXCERPT:
Infectious diseases, such as the H1N1 influenza strain, have wrought havoc not only on human populations in recent years but increasingly on critical bits of economic infrastructure such as transport systems and hospitals.

Efforts to contain the spread of the viruses are often hampered by the time and complicated processes involved in the diagnosis, isolation and treatment of patients showing symptoms of such viruses.

A Singapore outfit has developed a device that could dramatically slash the amount of time, costs and human resources needed to diagnose infectious diseases during critical outbreaks.

At first glance, the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology's MicroKit looks like a souped-up breadmaker. But its insides reveal the convergence of technologies from a number of different research fields, including electrical, biomedical and chemical engineering. The invention is a finalist in the Asian Innovation Awards.

The kit brings together a number of traditionally complicated and hazardous processes involved in disease detection into one small unit.

"The main challenge is to basically miniaturize the whole system so it's very fast and requires a very small amount of samples," IBN Executive Director Jackie Ying said.

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