Innovative ‘pregnancy tester’ to help UK's 1m undiagnosed kidney disease cases

A new medical device that combines nanotechnology with a pregnancy tester could help diagnose and treat the 1 million people in the UK who don’t know they have kidney disease, a new report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers has revealed.

Developed by engineers in London, the £10 device can be used at home and could revolutionise kidney disease care in the UK, which currently costs the NHS over £1.4 billion - more than breast, lung, colon and skin cancer combined.

Created by Bio Nano Consulting, the device – called quantitative electrochemical lateral flow assay (QELFA) – uses nanoparticles to test the patient’s urine giving results in seconds and is linked to their surgery via mobile technology so doctors can track how the disease is developing.

The new report highlights the enormous potential for nanotechnology in our society but calls on the Government to increase funding for nanotech development to ensure the UK does not fall behind other nations.

Report author Dr Helen Meese, Head of Materials at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: “Nanotechnology could revolutionise the way we live our lives – it can be used in everything from food and healthcare to electronics, clothing and cosmetics. But despite its 40 years in the public domain, the nanotechnology industry is still failing to engage with society in an open and clear way, and governments continue to lack impetus in committing to international regulation. The UK Government must provide more funding to ensure that the UK benefits fully from nanotechnology’s potential.

“The QELFA device is a brilliant example of what’s possible. Using an old technology such as a pregnancy tester and combining it with nanotechnology, you have a device that could not only diagnose the million people in the UK who are unaware they have kidney disease, but also help doctors effectively monitor those undergoing treatment. It could also save the NHS millions of pounds a year.

“But although the UK has been at the forefront of nanotechnology development, we still lag behind in its commercialisation and many people are still unsure of its potential. We must change this.”

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