Serious health issues frequently affect us people living in the Middle East. We face long-eradicated diseases like polio. There is also concern about disease caused by terrifying levels of air pollution. In cities like Tehran, people may be seeing air pollution worse than in Beijing. It’s hard to breath in cities like Tehran, but Cairo too. And eating. When your meat is pumped up with toxic contaminants this can’t be good for you. Think of what could be seen in a simple blood test? Cancer? Diabetes? Knowing this information early can save lives not only in the Middle East where general healthcare standards are not great, but also in the US where blood tests cost a lot of money to the uninsured.
An American start-up medical technology company, Theranos, is now developing a way that will change the face of healthcare, letting extensive blood work be done by a “single drop of blood”. We love the approach.
Founded in 2003 by Elizabeth Holmes, a young chemistry major at California’s Stanford University, Theranos (a combination of the words therapy and diagnosis) is now introducing its unique blood testing into American medical centers, including those that cater to people who have limited financial means.
Holmes, 31, was recently interviewed on a health and wellness program on CNN. During this interview, she said that when a doctor orders a blood test, between 40 and 60 percent of Americans do not have the tests performed due to high costs.
She says: “When a doctor orders a blood test, it usually means a person is already at risk of having some kind of health problem like a serious disease. Human error is also responsible for 93% of errors in the blood test itself,” she said on the show.
The Theranos method is extensive and includes more than 200 differents types of tests. The technology is licensed in every US state.
Using a testing procedure called the “nanotainer” – Theranos, though it does not report how, does manage to get results from smaller amounts of blood. The Theranos blood testing method is not only being hailed as much lower in cost to standard testing methods, it is also good in helping to detect certain serious ailments like diabetes and cancer at early stages, making treatment much more successful.
Presumably the company is using lab-on-a-chip methods, with software to amplify signals seen in the blood to confirm a diagnosis.
Theranos test means less pain
Besides the costs factor, taking only a small blood sample amount makes it easier to do tests on children and elderly people whose veins are hard to find for taking blood samples.
“We are very focused on the ability to mitigate the pain people who have to give blood frequently experience as their veins collapse from frequent blood draws. This helps make it possible for little children to get tested without being scared, or for elderly patients, oncology patients and people whose veins are difficult to find,” Holmes added.
This type of innovative bio-technology can work well in developing countries, where facilities to adequately store and work with large quantities of blood test samples may be scarce. This especially holds true for many parts of the developing world, including the Middle East.
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Photo of Elizabeth Holmes and Single Drop of Blood: Theranos.com