New Technology Could Lead to Card-Swipe Medical Tests

Jan 01, 2009

Imagine seeing a patient in your office and being able to test for dozens or even hundreds of diseases with just the swipe of a card that contains microscopic samples of the patient’s blood, saliva, or urine. This technology may not be far off.

Imagine seeing a patient in your office and being able to test for dozens or even hundreds of diseases with just the swipe of a card that contains microscopic samples of the patient’s blood, saliva, or urine. This technology may not be far off.

Scientists from the University of Utah, Iowa State University, and NVE Corp have created a prototype of a device that could ultimately be used to test for a multitude of diseases right in the doctor’s office. Test results would be available in minutes. Details about the development of this device were reported in the November issue of Analytical Chemistry.1

The creators of this device estimate that the sensor could hold 1900 different samples for testing and may be able to scan for cancers, including prostate cancer, heart disease, herpesvirus infection, and other disorders.

The device uses giant magnetoresistance (GMR), which was discovered by Albert Fert and Peter Grnberg, who received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2007 for their discovery. GMR uses the same technology that is used to read data on computer hard drives and on MP3 players.

Although the device is currently the size of a personal computer, when it is developed commercially it will look much like a credit card reader. The researchers expect that a more advanced version of the device will be used to test farm animals for diseases in about 2 years; a version for humans might begin evaluation in about 5 years.

 

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Reference


1. Alper J. Microsized “giant” drives new rapid-screening device. Anal Chem. 2008;80:7905. http://pubs.acs.org/cgi-bin/sample.cgi/ancham/2008/80/i21/html/ac801967k.html. Accessed November 20, 2008.

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