Scientists from Singapore reported developing a portable device that could detect the H5N1 bird flu virus in less than half an hour from throat swabs and stool samples from humans and poultry. The researchers believe that this palm-sized “lab-on-a-chip” device would help them prevent outbreaks by providing early warnings.

Researchers from the Singapore-based Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology said that this new instrument uses a magnetic force to manipulate reagents to rapidly determine whether samples are positive or negative for the deadly H5N1 strain.

Previously used bird flu tests take about three to four hours to complete and must be conducted in a lab. The new device could be 40 to 100 times cheaper than current bird flu detection tests and could further more be adapted for testing for severe acute respiratory syndrome, HIV and hepatitis B.

The use of the new device has not been approved but many believe that it could be the answer to halting the H5N1 that has claimed over 200 lives since it first appeared.