The Guardian reports that Egyptian liver specialists say they’ve developed a device that can remotely scan patients for hepatitis C. It’s called C-FAST, and it’s based on a “bomb detector” used by the Egyptian military (along with many other countries). (The guy who sold that “bomb detector” has been charged with fraud.)

Essentially, it’s a car radio antenna attached to a box, and it’s supposed to swing like a compass needle towards people who have Hep C, while staying still in the presence of people who don’t. Much like a dowsing rod. According to its inventors, it responds to electromagnetic signalling from the Hep C virus, which according to them, “vibrates” at a certain frequency.

C-FAST’s inventors claim that “it’s been successfully trialled in 1,600 cases across three countries, without ever returning a false negative result.” I note a distinct lack of the terms “double-blind” or “controlled” here.

The only publication I can find is this 2011 EASL poster abstract describing a study of 879 patients at a hepatology clinic in Mansoura, Egypt. The results from C-FAST were compared to the results of RT-PCR screening. There’s no information at all about whether the PCR screening was done before or after C-FAST screening, nor whether the study was double-blind.

The Guardian article in the first link quotes Dr. Saeed Hamid, of the Pakistan Society for the Study of Liver Diseases, claiming that he has tested C-FAST “in a blinded fashion,” and it was successful. However, I can’t find any publications at all about the study or studies he’s referring to.

I’m extremely skeptical of the proposed mechanism of C-FAST (in case you couldn’t tell). And without a lot more peer-reviewed published data, from double-blind, controlled studies, I’ll remain extremely skeptical of the amazing sensitivity and specificity claimed by its inventors.