Bucks firm debuts mobile testing lab destined for disease control in remote regions

 Robert Hilliard, chief technical officer for FlowMetric, shows the mobile FlowMetric Mo-POD he designed. (Todd Bookman/WHYY)

Robert Hilliard, chief technical officer for FlowMetric, shows the mobile FlowMetric Mo-POD he designed. (Todd Bookman/WHYY)

A Bucks County company is rolling out a first-of-its-kind mobile testing laboratory designed to monitor the spread of disease.

FlowMetric’s Mo-POD isn’t quite big enough to stand up inside, but it contains advanced equipment that can detect threats including Ebola, tuberculosis and malaria. The metal cube can be parachuted into remote regions or delivered in the back of a truck.

“And once dropped, it is self-sustainable. It is completely solar powered. All of the lab equipment in it, all of the communication systems, refrigeration…” said company founder Renold Capocasale. “There is nothing like it in the world.”

Immediate testing onsite means samples would no longer have to travel back to urban areas for analysis. The company’s proprietary “flow cytometry” testing process minimizes the amount of blood necessary and cuts down the time waiting for results, in many cases, to hours rather than days.

“This solves the immediacy problem. That blood, literally, will be analyzed almost instantaneously after it’s been drawn,” said Capocasale.

FlowMetric unveiled its mobile testing unit during the BIO International Convention taking place in Philadelphia this week.

The Mo-POD’s chief designer, military veteran Robert Hilliard, said the unit can go anywhere in the world, but stays connected through satellite communication systems.

“We can take that data in real time and send it to the National Institutes of Health or the CDC, allowing them to keep track of these diseases as they grow or spread through different countries,” said Hilliard. “You’ll be able to drop this in, and within five or six minutes, be a full live lab.”

The company isn’t releasing price information at this time.

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