Automatic sample testing thanks to space

Affordable automation of small-scale medical diagnostics

A miniaturised biotech unit developed for the International Space Station is improving medical diagnoses on Earth with affordable automation of small-scale diagnostics. In vitro diagnostics, or IVDs, are tests on samples such as human blood, urine and tissue to look for diseases and infection or to help diagnose a medical condition. They are used in diabetes, cancer, cardiology, HIV/Aids, autoimmune diseases,drug testing, infectious diseases and more. As healthcare needs are continually growing, the number of samples to test is rapidly increasing. With growing demand for clean testing, labs are looking to automation to increase throughput, improve quality and solve handling problems quickly. Many smaller laboratories that still perform IVD manually are also trying to take this step towards automation, but find that existing high-throughput units are too costly. When biotech company Fujirebio Europe joined with Belgium’s Verhaert, involved in Europe’s space programmes for many years, the answer was found. The unit developed by Verhaert for the Biolab research facility in Europe’s Columbus laboratory on the International Space Station turned out to provide a solution for low-throughput IVD. It is now improving the diagnosis of infectious diseases and cancers here on Earth.

Automatic sample testing thanks to space
Technology Transfer
Philip Raitt; Cornelis Eldering