Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) are unfortunately a common condition. Each year approximately 12% of women aged 18 or older in the U.S. will report a UTI, according to a study by the University of Michigan School of Public Health. In elderly patients, UTI symptoms sometimes present as dementia which can lead to delayed diagnosis and treatment. We previously wrote about Pixie Scientific’s smart pad that monitors possible UTI incidents.

This month, researchers at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) School of Natural Science headed by Professor Yoon-Kuoung Cho, introduced a novel microfluidic chip that can diagnose UTI and other infectious diseases. The UNIST team described the device design in a paper published in Nature Biomedical Engineering. It essentially is a tiny centrifuge based on the popular fidget spinner.

The diagnostic fidget spinner’s (Dx-FS) unique advantage is centrifugal force self-powering, which enables its use in point of care testing (POCT). Cho’s group optimized the diagnostic tool’s fluid dynamics with their own tech: a fluid-assisted separation technology (FAST). According to the UNIST study, the spinner-driven FAST needs only one or two spins by hand to produce enough enriched pathogens that the results can be observed by the unassisted eye.

Rather than waiting for a bacteria culture from a collected urine sample, the Dx-FS’s real-time, lab-quality results can give clinicians the information they need to diagnose UTIs so that they can provide treatment on the spot. This technology has far-ranging implications, from developing regions to telehealth and remote patient monitoring.