New Diagnostic Tool Using Ancient Toy

The world is becoming a better place to live with each passing day as we come across new techniques in the field of medicine. Modern medicines depend on technology such as centrifugation, which is huge, costly, and power consuming. A recent study was published in the Nature Biomedical Engineering Journal that introduces a cost-effective, hand-operated centrifuge, which is based on the ancient toy.

Let’s take a look at the invention of Manu Prakash and his team.

With an aim to search efficient yet cost-effective technique, the researchers tested a number of toys and finally found a toy known as the whirligig. They tested the whirligig and found it to be appropriate for the experimentation. By altering its basic design, the team was able to attain a speed of 125,000 revolutions/minute (RPM), the fastest recorded speed for a hand-powered instrument.

Whirligig, which is also called as spinning disk, buzzer, or a button spinner, is a toy with a disk or button weaved through 2 strings fixed to the handles. Twisting the strings and then stretching on the handles leading to unwinding of the threads makes the button whirl. Relaxing and pulling the strings frequently spins the button faster.

By using a fishing wire and paper disk, the research team turned the whirligig into a hand-powered centrifuge by modifying it. The making of this centrifuge cost about 20 cents. The modified whirligig was named as “paperfuge.” The paperfuge was tested to quantify red blood cell count. The team loaded blood by finger prick into a capillary tube, which was placed into sealed plastic straw fixed onto paper disk.

Isn’t it a great achievement? What do you think about this innovative technique? Feel free to share your thoughts.

Vaibhav Bhosale undertook the post of Content Writer at Medical Device News in November 2016, following a 1.2-year of experience as an Project Lead; Instructional Writer at eNyota Learning Pvt. Ltd. His immense interest in reading brought him in this field. He can be reached at vaibhav@medicaldevicenews.net