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14 July 2016

New Device Detects Disease Before You Have It

Scientist holds biosensor chip.
"This biochip would be easy to implant, swift to respond, and inexpensive. The chip is comprised of a DNA probe which sits on a graphene field effect transistor. The probe is a double strand of DNA genetically engineered to contain a sequence of coding for a specific SNP. The chip captures DNA or RNA molecules that have a certain kind of mutation. When these molecules bind to the probe, it sends an electrical signal."

New Device Detects Disease before You Even Have it
by Philip Perry, bigthink.com, 22 June 2016

Generally speaking, the farther along a serious illness is, the harder it is to cure or even manage. Many types of cancer such as colon, prostate, and breast cancer for instance, among the deadliest, give few if any symptoms before it’s too late. The earlier in its pathogenesis or development, the easier it is to manage and treat. Now, scientists have the means to detect serious illnesses before they begin.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have unveiled a biosensor chip that detects disease at its earliest stage, right at the genetic mutation. This could be used to screen the blood for early disease detection, to monitor illnesses, and even detect the presence of dangerous microbes or viruses, all in real time. Once implanted, the chip would be able to send information straight to a computer or smart phone, in HD.

Researchers hailed the breakthrough as inexpensive, fast, and dependable. Ratnesh Lal led the study. He is a professor of biological and mechanical engineering at the university. Lal said the biosensor chip has now surpassed the proof-of-concept phase. So many serious illnesses start with a single genetic mutation, observable within the blood. This mutation is known as a nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), which occurs in one particular nucleotide, the building blocks of DNA—either in A,C,G, or T. Most SNPs have no bearing on one’s health. Others are directly associated with serious conditions. These include heart disease, diabetes, cancer, autoimmune and inflammatory conditions, and neurodegenerative disorders—such as Alzheimer’s.

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