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New technology enables people to take own blood samples at home

A world-first prototype for taking accurate blood samples at home has been developed by a Tasmanian-led research partnership.

The hemaPEN is a prototype blood collection and storage device which enables users to take blood samples at home in a safe and portable application.

It allows people to collect an uncontaminated and precise volume of their own blood from their fingertips with the click of a button, as the device's design is based on a retractable pen.

hemaPEN eliminates the need to travel to a medical clinic which saves time and is more convenient, and the ready-to-use dried blood spot sample enables the laboratory to deliver more definitive test results.

The technology also aims to address the limitations of dried blood sampling, a procedure which is often used in newborn screening and requires correct amount and placement of blood samples usually undertaken by health professionals.

The hemaPEN was developed by ASTech; the $5.2 million Australian Research Council Training Centre for Portable Analytical Separation Technologies based at the University of Tasmania, and in partnership with Trajan Scientific and Medical and the Federal Government.

ASTech Training Centre Researcher Professor Michael Breadmore said the design and development of the hemaPEN is a world-first and promises to save time and money for the millions of people having to undertake blood sampling.

"Up until now, people who regularly require blood tests have to access the services of health professionals," Professor Breadmore said.

"This is often time-consuming and costly for both the individual and health care systems.

"The technology behind the hemaPEN aims to simplify and distill the complexities around in-house laboratory testing, allowing for user-friendly applications."

The device is designed by ASTech Post-doctoral Research Fellow Dr Florian Lapierre, who has undertaken industry placement at Trajan where he researched and developed the prototype.

"The idea behind the device's design is literally based on integrating microfluidic technology into a retractable pen," Dr Lapierre said.

"It's functional, intuitive and stores a precise volume of a sample safely and securely, providing greater user-experience and superior sample in a ready-to-use analytical format."

Professor Breadmore said the Centre was aiming to bridge the gap between research and product development through the partnership with Trajan.

"The hemaPEN is an example of ASTech's core foundations; developing new portable technology for point-of-sample analysis by putting research into action through research and industry partnerships," he said.

Trajan Chief Executive Officer Stephen Tomisich said Trajan is driven by a passion to develop technologies that will impact human wellbeing.

"Whilst this first iteration of the hemaPEN provides a DBS format ready for Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS) analysis, we are now working on future versions with various interfaces, potentially with in-built sensing technology," he said.

"Excitingly, we will soon commence trialling the device with patients to determine the impact of self-sampling to their lifestyles and wellbeing."

Image: Professor Michael Breadmore (left) and Dr Florian Lapierre with the world-first hemaPEN prototype.

Published on: 06 Oct 2015 1:47pm