From detecting breast cancer to screening for HIV, surviving serious disease depends on early detection. When regular testing isn't available, lives are lost. But early detection often requires expensive lab equipment, and specialty training that isn't easily common in many parts of the world. According to the World Health Organization, breast cancer—the most common cancer in women—has a survival rate that's roughly twice as high in high-income nations as it is in low-income countries.
"It basically emphasized that we needed to have access to early diagnostic tools," said Rahim Esfandyarpour, an engineering associate at the Stanford Technology Center.
So Esfandyarpour and a team of researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine endeavored to do something about it. They've developed a diagnostic 'lab-on-a-chip' that can be manufactured on the cheap and produced with your run-of-the-mill inkjet printer.