WATCH | A blood-testing lab on a stick
A small company in Arkansas is working on shrinking an entire blood-testing lab down to the size of a car key -- and making it affordable and available over the counter at your local drug store.
NowDiagnostics, a health-tech startup, is already selling its early detection pregnancy test to clinics across the country. It's also in the process of getting that test -- and similar instant-result tests for food allergies, STDs, drugs and infectious diseases -- approved for patients to purchase themselves and test at home.
All the types of NowDiagnostics tests looks the same but are filled with different protein-coated film inserts.
Breaking new ground in diagnostics
At-home blood testing is not exactly new, but the simple type of instant-result (not mail-in-for-results) at-home blood testing that NowDiagnostics has developed is.
"We believe that the advantage of this technology is truly the simplicity of the device, and yet the sensitivity is high enough to give you laboratory-quality results [in 10 minutes]," Kevin Clark, CEO of NowDiagnostics, explained to Circa in an interview about his company's devices.
Everything you need to do the assay are in the device itself ... You get a positive or negative result right there on the spot.
This is what test results look like.
How it works
Each NowDiagnostics test include a different protein-coated film that is created particular for the disease, toxicology or allergy it's testing. After a single drop of blood is dropped into a test's plastic-casing, either one or two lines will develop in the results area, depending on the test being a positive or negative. Then the test is simply thrown away.
"Think of the urine-based pregnancy test -- that's pretty much the closest thing that's out on the market," Clark said.
What exactly will it test for?
By the end of 2017, NowDiagnostics expects many of the tests it's working on (some of which are already being used in clinics) to be sold in an at-home versions, available on shelves at drug stores.
Some of the STD test in NowDX's product pipeline: HIV, herpes, syphilis, hepatitis, gonorrhea.
Food intolerances: Celiac, gluten, peanut, soy, shell fish, lactose.
Infectious diseases: Pink eye, strep throat, flu.
How much will it cost?
"Once we get to the [over the counter] level, we're talking about providing these products at less than a co-pay," Clark said.
U.S. surveys have the average co-pay for a visit to the doctor at about $25.
"Whether it's the food allergies and food intolerances to the sexually transmitted diseases," Clark went on, "to be able to [test yourself] in the privacy of your own home and make more intelligent decisions quicker -- that's the goal."