Inexpensive paper sensor detects malaria, HIV

Scientists are currently developing an inexpensive paper sensor based on the Japanese art of origami that is capable of detecting HIV and malaria.

Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin said that the new test material may someday replace more expensive traditional tests that are currently in use, according to

Blood tests for HIV and malaria are expensive, and, especially in the developing world, complications are frequent. It can be difficult just getting specimens back to the lab. The new test would cost less than 10 cents to produce, a major boost for countries and aid organizations that operate in areas where HIV and malaria are endemic.

The origami-inspired test relies on folded three-dimensional sensors that would be able to test for more results in a smaller area than a standard home pregnancy test. The nature of the material's composition and design mean that it could perform the type of complicated testing needed to identify HIV, malaria or potentially other diseases.

"This is about medicine for everybody," Richard Crooks, a UT professor of chemistry said, reports. "Anybody can fold them up. You don't need a specialist, so you could easily imagine an NGO with some volunteers folding these things up and passing them out. They're easy to produce, so the production could be shifted to the clientele as well. They don't need to be made in the developed world."