Scientists at Singapore's Institute of Microelectronics (IME) have developed a fast and sensitive system to measure specific cardiac biomarkers using just a finger prick amount of blood.
The silicon-based integrated system's features could help physicians quickly arrive at the right diagnosis for timely medical intervention in patients suspected of having heart attacks-particularly individuals who do not show obvious signs of chest pains or shortness of breath, according to researchers at IME, one of the research institutes sponsored by Singapore's A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology and Research).
The IME-developed cardiac biomarker testing system significantly cuts the time needed for sample preparation and analysis to just 45 minutes from the six hours typically required for the conventional testing platform known as ELISA (Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay).
Because of its multiplexing capability - measuring several cardiac biomarkers simultaneously-the new system contributes to the detail and certainty of diagnosis.
"The key to saving lives in heart attack scenarios is time and the quicker and more accurate the diagnosis can be made, the faster proper care and treatment can be instituted," said Philip Wong, M.D., Senior Consultant at the Singapore National Heart Centre, which worked with IME in developing the new system.
"The test kits can be rapidly deployed, and tests to confirm clinical diagnosis can be completed within short time frames," said Dr. Wong. "As the kits are deployed on-site as opposed to a central laboratory, confirmation of condition is rapid without the need to transport patients' specimens."
The IME-developed system is a label-free technology that uses semiconducting silicon nanowires (SiNWs) as biosensors. The working principle behind the nanowire biosensors is the field-effect transistor, which is responsible for generating a measurable electrical response when specific antibody-antigen interactions occur on the nanowire surface.
Specific antibodies that are immobilized onto the nanowire surface will elicit antibody-antigen interactions when allowed to come into contact with the variety of charged cardiac biomarkers. Released into the blood when the heart is injured, cardiac protein biomarkers such as troponin-T and creatinine kinases, are the basis of medical tests of patients in which a heart attack is suspected.
The IME-developed system is a label-free technology - thus eliminating the tagging step, thereby saving time and reagent consumption costs. In classical biochemical methods, the tagging of a fluorescent dye to the targeted analyte is used to detect and quantify the targeted analyte.