If your doctor's ever uttered the words, "I'd like to run more tests," you know the wait for results can be torturous. Engineers and students at the University of Rhode Island (URI) are hoping to stop the torture with a new lab-on-a-chip technology
that cuts way back on the wait for important lab results. The system provides results in 30 minutes, using a portable device and just a drop of blood. The blood is placed on a small plastic polymer cartridge, smaller than a credit card, and inserted into a shoebox-sized biosensor. It then travels across the cartridge to a detection site where reagents enable the sensor to detect biomarkers of disease. Basically, your doctor pops a bloody piece of plastic into a box, and out come your results. The first cartridges were developed to assess the risk of heart disease, but researches suggest they could be designed to detect everything from HIV to Alzheimer's. The URI team estimates costs at $3200 for the sensor and $1.50 for the test. No official word on a release date, but we hope they won't make us wait too long -- we can't stand the suspense.