The device is being developed by researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison who have formed a company, named Tasso, which aims to make blood sampling less painful and more convenient.

When the device is held against the skin, a slight vacuum in the device enables a small sample of blood to flow into an attached sample tube, which can be mailed or handed to a lab. Users report that the process is almost entirely painless.The technology relies on the forces that govern the flow of tiny fluid streams, said Ben Casavant, vice president and co-founder.

Currently, the device can extract about 0.15 of a cubic centimetre, enough to test cholesterol, infection, cancer cells and blood sugar, Casavant said.Although diabetics must test their blood sugar several times a day, they are not an initial market, Casavant said, as those tests are inexpensive if somewhat painful.

The device could help those who fear blood draws, and avoid time-consuming trips to labs for blood draws. Casavant expects the device to reach the market next year.

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