Currently blood and urine are tested for disease markers using a method called ELISA (Enzyme Linked Immunosorbant Assay). Developed in the 1970s, the process takes an average of two hours to complete, is costly and can only be performed by highly trained staff. The Leeds team are confident their new technology – which provides results in 15 minutes or less - could be developed into a small device the size of a mobile phone into which different sensor chips could be inserted, depending on the disease being tested for. "We've designed simple instrumentation to make the biosensors easy to use and understand," says Dr Millner. "They'll work in a format similar to the glucose biosensor testing kits that diabetics currently use."Dr. Millner describes the breakthrough as "next generation diagnostic testing." And Dr. Gibson takes it one step further, asserting that checking for human disease is not the only application for this research: "We've also shown that it can be used in environmental applications, for example to test for herbicides or pesticides in water and antibiotics in milk." In a house of the future, perhaps almost every square inch will be littered with biosensor gizmos that give you full profiles of your body chemistry and the nutrition facts of your groceries. Watch out, Dr. House — and Mrs. Fields. Disease diagnosis in just 15 minutes [University of Leeds] Image from Mendosa.com.
Currently, you can take your own temperature, determine the percentage of fat in your body, and even monitor the glucose levels in your blood with handheld devices. In the future, however, you'll have the power to do a lot more. New biosensor technology from the University of Leeds makes it possible to test for a variety of diseases in under 15 minutes, and research team leaders Dr. Paul Millner and Dr. Tim Gibson say their sensing device will be the size of a cell phone. Pretty soon you'll be able to tell who all the hypochondriacs are in your life; they'll be walking down the street with their eyes glued to their gadgets, constantly punching in biomarker settings for possible ailments.This disease diagnosis works by detecting biomarkers — substances in the body that indicate specific diseases. For example, the protein PSA (prostate specific antigen) frequently appears at elevated levels in men who have prostate cancer; the currently administered PSA blood test is the most effective way to screen for the disease. With the Leeds team's new device, however, prostate cancer screening would become much easier. The Leeds press release describes how: