Our friends in the Little Devices group at MIT were featured in a great NYT piece on January 29th that showcased the amazing medical innovations that are created by hacking together toys and other commonly available parts. From a toy machine gun that can be rigged to buzz when an IV bag is empty (see video below), to an asthma nebulizer constructed from a bike pump, tubing, adapters and filters, these clever hacks are allowing health workers in developing countries to design their own solutions to problems that researchers here in the US can’t predict. Keep it up Little Devices—we can’t wait to see what you guys come up with next!
Paul Farmer, co-founder of Partners in Health and Chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, has just released a collection of short speeches: To Repair the World: Paul Farmer Speaks to the Next Generation. He began his humanitarian work in Haiti and has been a long-term advocate of grassroots, community-based aid over donation-based aid. The most recent issue of Time Magazine features an article entitled “10 Questions for Paul Farmer” in which he addresses how we think about humanitarian aid. If you don’t have access to the magazine you can watch the interview here. On Health and Science day he also sat down to answer questions at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum in which he also addresses issues of health care and aid. One of the most interesting points he makes is the new focus on “global health equity” rather than “international health.” Check it out! To read more about Paul Farmer you can also check out the book Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder, which chronicles Farmer’s work with Partners in Health.
In their recent paper published in Lab on a Chip, Amara Apilux and colleagues demonstrate automated paper-based devices for one-step quantitative sandwich ELISA-based analysis. Two different designs of the patterned nitrocellulose membrane illustrate a potential for creating delayed fluid flow and allowing a multistep process (e.g. preconcentration and washing) with a single-step application of the sample solution. The authors achieved a limit of detection for hCG (8.1 mIU/mL) that is lower than measurable levels of conventional pregnancy test kits (20-100 mIU/mL), resulting from optimization of the pattern design using inkjet printing. This technology has the potential to simplify the efforts of complicated and time-consuming multistep biochemical analyses in the future.
Apilux et al., “Development of automated paper-based devices for sequential multistep sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays using inkjet printing”, Lab Chip, 2013, 13, 126.
Congrats to Dr. Paul Yager who has been recognized by Seattle Magazine as one of the "Top Doctors" for 2012! This honor falls under the magazine's "Global Health Awards" category and credits Dr. Yager as one of nine top global health innovators in the Seattle area. Check out the full article here!
University of Washington's Depart of Bioengineering Chair, Dr. Paul Yager. Photo by Sean Gumm, via seattlemag.com.
Recently, the New York Times ran this great feature on paper diagnostics out of the Whitesides laboratory at Harvard University. The article highlights a diagnostic test for liver failure that is both extremely cheap and, at about the size of a postage stamp, is extremely portable. These advantages make the test ideally suited for use in the developing world, where patients on both HIV and tuberculosis drugs are at risk for liver damage and in need of affordable diagnostics. The article also features a short video showing the paper device in action. Check it out!