Simple at-home test to detect blood clots developed

Washington: Researchers, including those of Indian-origin, have developed a simple paper-based screening method that can help patients with blood clotting disorders perform regular tests from the convenience of their homes.

The screening test created by researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) could be a game changer for patients with several life-threatening conditions, researchers said.

Patients with cardiovascular disease, hypertension, atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure, kidney disease and others who are at risk for blood clotting are especially vulnerable when blood-thinning medication levels get too weak or too strong, they said.

This imbalance can quickly lead to ischemic (clotting) or hemorrhagic (bleeding) strokes if not detected in time. “We have developed a blood screening device for patients on medications like Coumadin, warfarin or other blood thinners who need to monitor their blood-clotting levels on a regular basis,” said Andrew Steckl, UC professor of electrical engineering in the College of Engineering and Applied Science.

“Patients can soon monitor their blood coagulation characteristics from home quickly and painlessly before making needless trips to the lab or hospital,” said Steckl.

Using nanofibre membranes inside paper-based porous materials housed within a plastic cassette, the researchers can quickly show the level of the blood’s ability to clot, and all from the convenience of the patient’s living room with a simple finger stick to draw a drop of blood.

Slight changes in the level of coagulation properties will occur normally depending on certain food intake and overall health conditions, said researchers, including Prajokta Ray and Vishak Venkatraman from UC.

Steckl said a major change in levels immediately shows up on the paper-based test stick resulting in clotting patterns registering on one end of the spectrum or the other and will put up a red flag before any physiological trouble starts.

“This simple test is not intended to replace the very careful and accurate measurements that get accomplished in a laboratory facility, but at a relatively minimal cost a patient can do this on their own between scheduled visits or when in doubt,” said Steckl.

“And it shouldn’t require a caregiver, as most patients can perform this test quickly on their own,” he said.

The test is designed to give each patient the ability to keep a careful check on their levels by monitoring the changes that occur relative to previous tests.

The technology can also be calibrated to a specific patient’s condition. For example, a patient whose normal blood coagulation rate is significantly different from the general population because of a genetic disorder can use a tailor-made test kit that includes a different porous membrane.

Using the simple technology may also help patients who have a known inherited blood clotting disorder detect concerning levels early.