A team of Australian researchers has developed a dipstick that can almost instantaneously identify the blood type of a given sample. The test, which utilizes paper full of antibodies to the antigens on red blood cells, has demonstrated the same accuracy as current lab based typing.
From the abstract in Analytical Chemistry:
Agglutinated blood transports differently onto paper than stable blood with well dispersed red cells. This difference was investigated to develop instantaneous blood typing tests using specific antibody-antigen interactions to trigger blood agglutination. Two series of experiments were performed. The first related the level of agglutination and the fluidic properties of blood on its transport in paper. Blood samples were mixed at different ratios with specific and nonspecific antibodies; a droplet of each mixture was deposited onto a filter paper strip, and the kinetics of wicking and red cell separation were measured. Agglutinated blood phase separated, with the red blood cells (RBC) forming a distinct spot upon contact with paper while the plasma wicked; in contrast, stable blood suspensions wicked uniformly. The second study analyzed the wicking and the chromatographic separation of droplets of blood deposited onto paper strips pretreated with specific and nonspecific antibodies. Drastic differences in transport occurred. Blood agglutinated by interaction with one of its specific antibodies phase separated, causing a chromatographic separation. The red cells wicked very little while the plasma wicked at a faster rate than the original blood sample. Blood agglutination and wicking in paper followed the concepts of colloids chemistry. The immunoglobin M antibodies agglutinated the red blood cells by polymer bridging, upon selective adsorption on the specific antigen at their surface. The transport kinetics was viscosity controlled, with the viscosity of red cells drastically increasing upon blood agglutination. Three arm prototypes were investigated for single-step blood typing.
Press statement by American Chemical Society: First paper ‘dipstick’ test for determining blood type
Abstract in Analytical Chemistry: Paper Diagnostic for Instantaneous Blood Typing