Nanotube Technology Leading to Fast, Lower-Cost Medical Diagnostics

Researchers at Oregon State University have tapped into the extraordinary power of carbon "nanotubes" to increase the speed of biological sensors

Story content courtesy of Oregon State University, News & Research Communications, US

The new findings have almost tripled the speed of prototype nano-biosensors, and should find applications not only in medicine but in toxicology, environmental monitoring, new drug development and other fields.

"With these types of sensors, it should be possible to do many medical lab tests in minutes, allowing the doctor to make a diagnosis during a single office visit," said Ethan Minot, an OSU assistant professor of physics. "Many existing tests take days, cost quite a bit and require trained laboratory technicians. This approach should accomplish the same thing with a hand-held sensor, and might cut the cost of an existing $50 lab test to about $1," he said.

The newest advance was the creation of a way to keep proteins from sticking to other surfaces, like fluid sticking to the wall of a pipe. By finding a way to essentially "grease the pipe," OSU researchers were able to speed the sensing process by 2.5 times.

Further work is needed to improve the selective binding of proteins, the scientists said, before it is ready to develop into commercial biosensors.

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