Fluorescent nanoparticles can open up new possibilities for home-based tests, effectively eliminating the necessity of resorting to a lab, a study at the University of Turku revealed.
Common home-based tests, such as the pregnancy test, have been around since the 1980s. With this method, a sample of blood or urine is highlighted with the help of an active substance, which reveals the result to the user.
Although development in this area has been minor, Etvi Juntunen of Turku University, who specializes in so-called "point-of-care diagnostics," argued that fluorescent nanoparticles are much more sensitive than substances used in standard tests and can effectively bypass the laboratory.
According to Professor Kim Petterson, the sensitivity of nanoparticles allows them to be applied in more demanding areas.
"These particles emit a light when, say, highlighted by another lamp. Thus it becomes a more sensitive way of measuring than the naked eye," Petterson explained to national broadcaster Yle.
A step forward from common self-tests; nanoparticles can be used for detecting infectious diseases or act in combination with clinical tests in order to improve the early discovery of myocardial infarction, prostate cancer or viral infections. Early detection of infectious diseases may prove particularly useful in developing countries. Mass-produced tests that don't require thorough analysis may effectively offset the lack of advanced laboratories and expensive measuring instruments.
Stress is another area where fluorescent nanoparticles can modernize home-testing.
"Today, stress seems to be a part of everyday life, as it is very common for people to be in a hurry. With the help of nanoparticles, you will eventually be able to measure the cortisol levels in the body, that is the level of stress hormones," Juntunen explained.
The biggest disadvantage of the nanoparticle method, however, is that they cannot be seen with the naked eye, and therefore require some type of measuring instrument. Nevertheless, Juntunen argued that the method may be pioneered in Finland within two years.