Fueled by a $9.6 million grant from DARPA, GE Healthcare (NYSE:GE) is spearheading research and design of a pocket-sized medical device that can diagnose infectious diseases "in the field" in under 1 hour.
GE is working alongside a team at the University of Washington on this device, which promises to be able to detect an infection with a simple nasal swab and to sync up to a smartphone.
The team currently has its eye on accurate detection of MRSA, a dangerous drug-resistant infection that shows up most often in hospitals, prisons and other close quarters. However, GE said the device will ultimately be an umbrella diagnostic tool, capable of detecting a variety of common infections like STDs, pathogens and viral infections.
The device – about the size of a deck of cards – isolates DNA or RNA from foreign cells from the nasal swab and displays infection results using color-changing paper, similar to a pregnancy test.
The NIH also handed GE a $5.7 million grant specifically in support of a flu detection immunoassay, and part of that grant is also funding the University of Washington team’s product development.
"As part of our program with DARPA, we’re developing a small, light-weight device that a doctor could fit in their pocket. This unit could readily detect multiple pathogens in limited resource settings, such as military outposts or communities in remote areas," David Moore, manager at GE Global Research and research co-investigator, said in prepared remarks.