Origami Paper Sensor to Look for Diseases

The University of Texas at Austin has come up with an affordable way to figure out if people have certain diseases such as malaria or AIDS. The 3-D paper sensors were inspired by the art of origami. The eventual cost to test could be under 10 cents per sensor.

These sensors were developed by Richard Crooks, the Robert A Welch Professor of Chemistry, and doctoral student Hong Liu. They have the potential to increase the treatment of individuals in currently developing countries. The main idea is to work like a pregnancy test, but the sensors have the capabilities of looking for a number of diseases instead. Users would place urine, blood, or saliva on the sensor, which is a sheet of paper that uses photolithography.

“Biomarkers for all kinds of diseases already exist,” says Crooks. “Basically you spot-test reagents for these markers on these paper fluidics. They’re entrapped there. Then you introduce your sample. At the end you unfold this piece of paper, and if it’s one color, you’ve got a problem, and if not, then you’re probably ok.”

Crooks also said that anyone can fold these sensors. It does not require a specialist. This will allow volunteers working in developing countries to be able to pass these out to people, and get treatment much quicker for those that are found to have whatever the sensor is looking for.