Feb. 13 - A non-invasive blood test that uses microchips instead of needles is being tested in Spain, with a view to incorporating it in the Spanish public healthcare system. Originally designed to test the blood of astronauts, the test is a pain and anxiety-free alternative to the needle and syringe. Jim Drury reports.
For most people, a blood test means a needle in the arm - not a pleasant experience. But if the developers of the ANESA system have their way a standard test could soon become a lot more bearable. ANESA testing is performed by microchips attached to five parts of the body where they check for blood parameters such as an enzyme and hormone levels. Dr Antonio Sicras Mainar is co-ordinating tests on patients at the Badalona Municipal Hospital, near Barcelona. SOUNDBITE (Spanish) ANTONIO SICRAS MAINAR, HEAD OF INVESTIGATION AND INNOVATION AT HOSPITAL MUNICIPAL DE BADALONA, SAYING: "This microchip detects temperature through the body's thermo-regulation mechanisms. These microchips must be placed on the carotid arteries, in the armpits, and one in the umbilical area. It detects temperature, and through mathematical algorithms we can test biochemical parameters." Sicras Mainar says the ANESA is as effective as traditional blood tests, and offers results within just six minutes. It can't diagnose antibodies in blood, though, so tests for Hepatitis, AIDS or Syphilis, would still require a needle. Patient Xavier Jimenez says he was pleasantly surprised by his ANESA experience. SOUNDBITE (Catalan) XAVIER JIMENEZ, PATIENT, SAYING: "The normal way of drawing blood, with a needle, makes you very anxious. It's not a nice test. But this new kind of test surprised me because you don't feel any pain." ANESA has been used in China and some private European hospitals, but could also be rolled out across the Spanish public healthcare system if the trial is a success.