HYDERABAD: A team of researchers led by an IIT-Hyderabad professor has developed a device that can detect heart diseases within minutes of testing a blood sample. With the same technique they used, researchers could soon create similar devices to spot other diseases as well. The findings of their study were recently published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry B.
The device to detect heart diseases using blood samples is based on the combination of microfluidics and biomarker-based biosensor technologies. Microfluidics deals with very small volumes of fluids — in the range of a quadrillionth of a litre.
Unlike time-consuming lab tests, microfluidics technology makes it possible to develop portable analytical devices with microfluidics-based biosensors that can provide almost instantaneous results when a small amount of blood passes through the device. Biomarkers are biological molecules that represent the state of health and disease.
Biomarkers in blood help detect heart disease
Explaining the technique to detect heart diseases, Prof Renu John, head of biomedical engineering at IIT Hyderabad, said, “Biomarkers are molecules that represent health and disease states. They are specific chemicals that are released in the body in response to certain physiological conditions.”
“Cardiac troponins or cTns, for example, are biomarkers of heart diseases and are conventionally detected in the bloodstream using antibodies that bind specifically to them. Biosensors are devices that combine the sensing element with a transducer that converts the interaction of antibodies into electrical or optical signals that can be measured,” the professor added.
When blood containing the health-disease biomarker cTns is passed through a device with biosensors, the cTns binds with the antibody and induces an electrical signal, which is then detected and it can be inferred if the person who has given blood has heart disease. The researchers tested the performance of their device and found that it could detect the health disease biomarker cTns with high accuracy and sensitivity. Even cTns levels as low as 0.000000000005 grams in one millilitre of blood could be detected.
Tests blood, gives result
The device checks for disease-markers in the blood, and releases an electrical signal signifying the presence of absence of disease