Blood analysis at home – the Gebert Rüf Foundation is funding a BFH project

30.05.2023 As part of the ‘First Ventures’ programme, the Gebert Rüf Foundation is once again supporting a BFH project, from which it is hoped a start-up company will eventually emerge. The aim of the project is to make blood tests available wherever they are needed, and at an affordable price.

The diagnosis of viral and bacterial infections and anaemia generally requires a visit to a doctor’s surgery where trained medical staff produce a full blood count using expensive lab equipment. This should be a much less expensive procedure in future, and one that is possible at the patient’s home. Researchers at the Institute for Human Centered Engineering HuCE at Bern University of Applied Sciences BFH are working on a solution by developing a new product called Microcyte, a pocket-sized haematology device. Mobile medical or nursing staff can be equipped with this point-of-care diagnostics tool for use in the rapidly growing area of home care. It could also benefit people in medically under-resourced regions who have no access to hospitals or medical practices.

Blood analysis using imaging

The Microcyte principle is based on an innovative approach where the blood sample is initially provided on a special microfluidics chip that enables subsequent blood analysis using intelligent imaging. The researchers are currently improving the design of the diagnostic device and the microfluidics chip to produce a prototype and to meet the criteria for medical product certification at a later stage. They are also collaborating with the Inselspital hospital in Bern.

CHF 150,000 grant

The Gebert Rüf Foundation has recognised Microcyte’s potential and is providing project leader Alexander Küenzi with funding of CHF 150,000 as part of the ‘First Ventures’ programme. This programme is aimed at bachelor’s and master’s students at universities of applied sciences who develop an innovative business idea in their thesis, and provides them with the opportunity to translate their idea into new products or services. Alexander Küenzi graduated from BFH with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, with a specialisation in product development, and then completed the Master in Engineering programme with a specialisation in mechanical engineering. He was already working as an assistant at HuCE while completing his master’s programme. Matt Stark, a research assistant at HuCE, is working alongside him on the Microcyte project. The two researchers are being supervised by Prof. Dr Cédric Bessire, an expert in microfluidics and image-based sensor technology.

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