Google+ Facebook Twitter Twitter

Separating blood plasma with a toy

Researchers have found a novel use for “fidget spinner” toys – separating blood plasma for diagnostic tests.

Centrifuges are expensive and require electricity that might not be available in resource-limited regions.

The new approach could be useful for medical applications in regions of the world that lack electricity and other resources.

Chien-Fu Chen, Chien-Cheng Chang and colleagues wondered if a commercially available fidget-spinner could generate enough force to separate blood plasma with the flick of a finger.

They placed human blood samples in tiny tubes, sealed the ends and taped a tube to each of the three prongs of a fidget-spinner.

They found that by flicking the spinner with a finger three to five times, they could separate about 30% of the plasma with 99% purity in only four to seven minutes.

To verify that the plasma was suitable for diagnostic tests, the researchers spiked blood with a human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) protein, separated the plasma with the spinner and performed a paper-based detection test.

The inexpensive, simple method detected clinically relevant concentrations of the viral protein in only a drop of blood. A video of a fidget spinner being used as a centrifuge can be viewed here.

Image credit | iStock

Related Articles

March: news in numbers

A breakdown of science news this month, in numbers.

From lecture to lab

Transfusion Practitioner Lisa McKain and Haematology Operations Manager Lorna Philpotts look at the application of academic learning in professional practice.

Haematology CPD presentation

A CPD presentation with a multi-disciplinary slant has been organised by the Birmingham branch of the IBMS.


Dervilla Gorman and Naomi DeJager describe their roles as bronze commanders at Viapath Analytics and discuss their responses to incidents that have affected pathology services.