The devices developed at the Sandia National Laboratories could one day eliminate needle pricks for diabetics and blood drawings for other dignostic purposes:
One device is ElectroNeedles, micron-sized electrodes capable of measuring molecules such as glucose that can donate or accept electrons (redox behavior). The other is µPosts, micron-sized posts that have the potential of painlessly measuring proteins and other macromolecules, including protein markers released during a heart attack, using optical measurements. The platforms complement each other and together create a diagnostic suite capable of detecting many important biological markers.
“The tiny ElectroNeedles, expected to be constructed of cheap throw-away plastic, would not only make glucose testing simple and painless, but would significantly cut the diagnostics time involved in protein analysis,” says Jeb Flemming, Sandia project leader. “Because the analysis is done inside the body, the need to withdraw body fluid is eliminated, and because the needles are so small the measurements are painless…”
The team realized that the tips of each of the ElectroNeedles and µPosts could be coated with a biologically active layer capable of measuring concentrations of specific lipids, proteins, antibodies, toxins, viruses, and carbohydrates (such as glucose). Using the ElectroNeedles and rapid electrochemical methods for analysis, a measurement can be made in a few seconds. Likewise, using coated µPosts to capture proteins and other non-redox behaving molecules, optical measurements can potentially be made in less than a half hour.
“Multiple chemical platforms, such as µPosts, will change medical diagnostics by giving the physician a greater understanding of the health of the patient in a shorter amount of time than standard laboratory analysis used today in medicine,” Buckley says.
The arrays may be configured in a variety of formats–larger or smaller to accommodate different applications.
And did we tell you that the test results would be instantaneous?
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