A new microchip technology, which is expected to advance the art of diagnosis has been developed by Rice University scientists.
Cardiac disease is the focus of one of six ongoing major clinical trials of Rice's programmable bio-nano-chips (PBNCs).
PBNCs combine microfluidics, nanotechnology, advanced optics and electronics to enable quick, painless diagnostic tests for a wide range of diseases at minimal cost.
Current clinical trials employ PBNCs to test more than 4,000 patients for signs of heart disease, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, oral cancer and drug abuse. Versions to test for HIV/AIDS and other diseases are also in development.
"Too often, the first time people know they're suffering from heart disease is when it kills them," said John McDevitt, Rice's Brown-Wiess Professor of Chemistry and Bioengineering.
"With this test, we expect to save lives and dramatically cut the recovery time and cost of caring for those who suffer from heart ailments," said McDevitt, a pioneer in the creation of microfluidic devices for biomedical testing.
PBNCs analyze a patient's saliva for biomarkers associated with cardiovascular disease.
PBNCs now in development deliver results in as little as 20 minutes and provide clinicians with timely information that can help them manage patients more effectively.
McDevitt will discuss the potential of this technology at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Washington, D.C., Feb. 17-21.