Detection in a chip
In as few as 10 minutes, a new chip can warn doctors about cancer in a patient, using blood from a single finger prick. The chip, about the size of a microscope slide, saves time and expense compared with how blood work is traditionally done. For pennies, the chip can do what typically costs a hospital about $50.
The Integrated Blood Barcode Chip (IBBC), developed at NSB Cancer Center at California Technical Institute, separates plasma from cells and flows the plasma down narrow channels containing antibody-studded bars. The antibodies will bind only to specific proteins in the plasma – such as those associated with prostate cancer – which glow when fluorescent tags are washed across the channels.
The IBBC, currently in clinical trials, is often used with multiple patients each day.
“It works very well,” says Jim Heath, the center’s director. “We have already set up two manufacturing sites for making the chips so we can produce enough to support our clinical trials.”
Heath and his researchers believe the IBBC can produce accurate and sensitive measurements.
“The major challenge now is getting the biology correct,” he says.
A cool skin repair device
Corpus Christi-based CryoPen Inc. wants to revolutionize cryosurgery with its CryoPen, which freezes and removes abnormal skin cells. Instead of using potentially harmful liquids or gases, the pen-like device uses a linear compressor to reach temperatures of minus 95 degrees Celsius.
Current methods rely on the doctor’s technique. Not so with the CryoPen.
“The results are consistent, even for doctors who don’t regularly perform cryosurgery,” says Dr. Michael Haas, president of CryoPen Inc.
Americans spend about $3 billion annually on skin lesion removal. With help from a $2 million Texas Emerging Technology Fund grant, CryoPen officials plan to market the device nationally.
Protecting the protectors
The Palo Alto Research Center is working to speed up the diagnosis of head trauma, especially the kind experienced by soldiers in battle, which can go undiagnosed for weeks after an explosion or blast. The center is developing a strip of information-gathering tape that can be attached to a soldier’s helmet and report to doctors details about blasts that would otherwise go unreported, often resulting in brain damage.
Each strip costs less than a dollar and can collect seven days’ worth of data before being added to a soldier’s medical record.
For more information on the Palo Alto Research Center, visit www.parc.com.