You’ve seen it on just about every Star Trek show – someone gets sick and they wave a tricorder near them and figure out immediately what life-threatening/oldening/forehead bumpening disease they’re infested with. Well, it looks like doctors are getting closer to that Sci-Fi cliché, as scientists have created a device that lets doctors scan a patient’s blood for disease markers that can help figure out just what’s wrong with them.
The device uses mini-trays about the size of a credit card which are filled with polystyrene beads coated with antibodies. When exposed to a patients blood, disease markers cause the antibody coatings on the beads to clump together in a way that a reader can detect using UV light.
The makers of the CliniHub, Cambridge Consultants and XenBio Fluidics (which don’t at all sound like companies you’d find in Bioshock) have built prototypes that can detect three diseases, although info on the disease markers or antibody coatings haven’t been released. They’re looking to create an under-$100 breast cancer screener with the technology, although critics say that we need more research into the disease markers before it can replace mammograms.
They’re also planning a home version that people can use to determine everyday diseases like bacterial and viral infections. So one day, you may be able to know immediately just what type of clap you’ve got, all in the privacy of your own home. Ain’t science great?