Portable laboratory device a breakthrough for field work

  • 26/08/2014

Researchers at Otago University have invented a portable device that can quickly detect bugs and bacteria in the field, including the Ebola virus, without the need for a laboratory.

The revolutionary device was launched today in Queenstown and has attracted international attention.

The small purple box dubbed 'Freedom 4' is the first portable battery powered laboratory in the world that can be taken into the field and detect deadly viruses and bacteria.

"The technology we are using is called quantitative PCR - it is a diagnostic test and it can look for many different types of organisms," says Dr Jo-Ann Stanton of Otago University.

It can search for viral infectious diseases in both animals and humans, like the Ebola virus and SARS.

The device analyses samples on site and the results can be viewed on a smartphone in real time, meaning a quick diagnosis can be made on the spot.

"We are doing away with couriering samples to a central laboratory - it's much quicker cause we can get the answer in 50 minutes, as opposed to a couple of days," says Dr Stanton.

After six years of development and testing, Otago University's Commercial Centre of Innovation has done a commercial production deal.

"We are very happy with our commercial partner," says Pete Hodgson of Otago Innovation Limited. "That partner now starts to garner interest in the world market and invest further to finish the job of getting the product packaged and ready to go priced into a market."

Delegates at Queenstown's Molecular Biology Conference were impressed.

"Basically everybody wants one, which is fabulous to hear - everybody can see the potential," says Dr Stanton.

Expect to see the device at international airports and borders in years to come.

3 News

source: newshub archive