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Star Trek-Like Device Could Replace Medical Test Equipment

Star Trek-Like Device Could Replace Medical Test Equipment

Levi Beckerson / Daily Tech

October 03, 2008

‘Not quite a tricorder, this handheld device from the University of Leeds still promises ELISA-like medical diagnosis as well as other speedy results.’ -

ELISA, or Enzyme Linked Immunosorbant Essay, has been the de facto test for detecting many diseases and conditions that assail the body. Unfortunately, the tests require urine or blood samples, skilled technicians and several hours to complete. A group of University of Leeds scientists may just do away with the wait and difficulty of ELISA tests with a new device in development.

The project which may spawn the replacement, in a bit of an ironic twist, is called ELISHA for Electro-Immunointerfaces and Surface Nanobiotechnology: A Heterodoxical Approach. The 2.7M € project delves into new methods for electronic measurements and attaching antibodies to different kinds of surfaces.

The Leeds team has already shown promise for such a device with their new detectors which can return results in as little time as 15 minutes. The simple device uses antibodies which are attached to a sensing surface to detect known biochemical markers. So far they have been able to tune the detector to see various types of cancers, strokes, fungal infections, heart disease and multiple sclerosis.

Dr. Paul Millner, coordinator for ELISHA and faculty of the University of Leeds has high hopes for the project. “We believe this to be the next generation diagnostic testing. We can now detect almost any analyte faster, cheaper and more easily than the current accepted testing methodology.”

The biosensor will be easy to use and quite versatile. Dr. Millner compares the device to a standard glucose biosensor used by diabetics in terms of functionality. The Leeds group also sees the device utilized for other advanced testing such as for HIV or tuberculosis, and non-medical sensing purposes like checking for pollutants in water or antibodies in milk.

Though still requiring moving components and not quite as speedy, it seems like the first steps towards a staple of science fiction, the versatile tricorder, are being made in earnest.


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