Stanford University Researchers Create Cheap Blood Centrifuge


Stanford University researchers were able to create a cheap alternative to a common tool in modern medicine: the centrifuge. This can help in detecting diseases in people from countries who can't afford this type of medical support.

In its official website, Stanford University confirmed that its bioengineers were able to develop "an ultra-low-cost, human-powered centrifuge." It can separate blood into its individual components in just a minute and a half.

The device is created from 20 cents of paper, twine and plastic. Deemed as a "paperfuge," it can spin at speeds of 125,000 rpm and can exert centrifugal forces of 30,000 Gs. Manu Prakash, an assistant professor of bioengineering at Stanford, said that this may be the fastest spinning object that works just with human power.

A centrifuge plays a significant role in the detection of diseases such as malaria, African sleeping sickness, HIV and tuberculosis. The low-cost device can help provide accurate diagnosis and treatment in places, which are usually poor and difficult to reach, where the said diseases are most rampant.

The study was published online on Tuesday in the journal "Nature." The centrifuge separates blood components and makes it easier to detect parasites, like the ones that cause malaria, because it settles in the middle of the tube.

Prakash specializes in low-cost diagnostic tools for underserved places. He saw the need for a new, inexpensive type of centrifuge after he found an expensive centrifuge being used as a doorstop in a Ugandan clinic because it was useless without electricity.

According to Live Science, Prakash won a 2016 MacArthur "genius" award. He is known for the creation of the Foldscope, which is an origami-like paper microscope that only costs about $1.50.

Inverse noted that, in 2015, more than 400,000 people died from malaria. Moreover, as the Earth's temperature continues to rise, climate change is expected to be the primary cause of more people dying from malaria, malnutrition, diarrhea and heat stress every year between 2030 and 2050.

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