WASHINGTON, Sept. 1Blood tests are important diagnostic tools. They accurately tease-out vanishingly small concentrations of proteins and other molecules that help give a picture of overall health or signal the presence of specific diseases. Current testing procedures, however, are expensive and time-consuming, while sophisticated test equipment is bulky and difficult to transport.
Now, a team of researchers from the University of Toledo in Ohio has addressed all these drawbacks by developing a low-cost, portable technique that is able to quickly and reliably detect specific proteins in a sample of human blood. This innovative technique, described in the Sept. 1 issue of the Optical Society's (OSA) open-access journal, Biomedical Optics Express, could help in a wide range of medical sensing applications, including diagnosing diseases like cancer and diabetes long before clinical symptoms arise.
"The detection and measurement of specific blood proteins can have a huge impact on numerous applications in medical diagnostic sensing," says Brent D. Cameron with the department of bioengineering at the University of Toledo, one of the paper's authors. "This method has the potential to provide similar functionality of large and costly clinical instrumentation currently used to identify and quantify blood proteins for a fraction of current costs."
Human blood contains literally thousands of different proteins. Many are essential for the day-to-day mechanics of life. Others are formed only in response to certain diseases. Knowing which protein is the hallmark of an illness and singling it out of a blood sample leads to earlier diagnosis and more effective treatment. An example of this is the prostate-specific antigen (PSA), which is now routinely tested for to help detect prostate cancer and other prostate abnormalities in men.
In this new system, the researchers borrowed a trick from nature, using artificially created mole
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Optical Society of America