A prototype biochip to rapidly diagnose strokes has been developed in Russia. The team behind the breakthrough comes from the LETI St. Petersburg State University of Electrical Engineering. At the heart of the invention is the molecular biorecognition effect; coupled with fluorescence, it is expected to help pinpoint a release of stress proteins into blood which typically evidences a high probability of stroke or encephalopathy in a patient.
Cerebral vascular disorders are responsible for a huge variety of widespread (and fatal) blood circulation diseases. The swifter a physician diagnoses stroke symptoms, the higher the likelihood is for surviving a pathological development.
Current diagnostics instruments are usually bulky, and far from portable. Therefore, when a doctor is faced with a dilemma – whether to take his patient to hospital, or monitor him as an outpatient – it’s in many instances indirect symptoms like headache or speech impairment (which may or may not signal a stroke case) that decide the doctor.
“We have come up with a prototype biochip capable of identifying protein markers in blood samples which suggest serious risks. The chip has been tested and its modus operandi and application methodology described,” said Victor Luchinin who heads the micro- and nanoelectronics chair at LETI.
How it works
The biochip is a tiny device with a sensitive matrix inside, enhanced with a layer of molecular recognizers. When it comes in contact with stress protein containing blood samples, the system selectively captures the proteins, and fluorescence (light signal) completes the job by registering their number.
“A certain concentrated amount of substances released in the human body as reaction to stress is a sign of a cardiac or stroke case. We check a patient’s blood samples and get results within 30 minutes, much faster than conventional blood tests allow,” Mr. Luchinin added.
Both physicians and ordinary people may look forward to getting this scientific achievement turned one day into a simple and inexpensive tool to diagnose cerebral problems in hospitals or at home.
The new chip is just one in a series of research efforts aimed at developing express diagnostics systems for a whole range of chronic diseases, based on biochip-enabled analysis of protein markers in bodily fluids.
LETI is a leading Russian university with solid expertise in radio electronics, information and telecommunication tech, IT-controlled systems, artificial intelligence, and bioengineering.