A piece of plastic the size of a credit card, combined with a book-size gadget, can diagnose as many deadly diseases as big laboratory machines can—but quickly, cheaply and in remote locations
By Amber AngellePosted 03.23.2010 at 6:28 pm 1 Comment
Most blood tests require shipping vials off to a lab, followed by several days of nail biting. This kit, one of the first that can diagnose multiple diseases on the spot, shrinks an entire lab into a two-piece portable package that even novices can use. A disposable, $1 plastic card, formed through injection molding, holds miniature versions of test tubes and chemicals. In place of technicians or $100,000 machines, a battery-powered, $100 gadget mixes the molecules.
A former Pfizer scientist is suing the pharmaceuticals giant after alleging she contracted an artificial, HIV-like, virus created by a colleague. In her lawsuit, Becky McClain claims Pfizer unlawfully dismissed her while she suffered bouts of paralysis brought on by the man-made virus. Pfizer denies these accusations, and says McClain simply didn't come to work, and only linked her problems to engineered-disease exposure after she was fired.
Tests for toxins or pathogens generally rely on chemical reactions. But a team of researchers at Cornell University have created a sensor that detects the presence of chemicals based on the mechanical disruption of a nanoscale system. The device can instantly detect as little as a single molecule of a substance.
Despite coming from a range of different backgrounds, everyone whose genome has been fully sequenced has had one thing in common: they were all healthy. But now, two teams have decoded the first genomes of people who carry genetic diseases, with one group also performing the first-ever full sequencing of an entire nuclear family.
The mismanagement of human waste is a serious health problem for the 2.6 billion people who don't have regular access to toilets. In fact, in the slums of Kenya, waste management is so haphazard that residents dispose of feces-filled plastic bags by simply flinging the bags away without concern about where they land. And it was discovering those flying sacks of waste that inspired Anders Wilhelmson to invent the PeePoo, a chemically treated toilet bag that sterilizes human waste and converts it to fertilizer, all for only two or three cents.
Existing lab-on-a-chip designs can put the power of testing in the palm of your hand, but an upcoming model may represent the cheapest and most colorful one yet. A Harvard University chemist has created a prototype "chip" technology out of paper that could help diagnose HIV, malaria, tuberculosis and other diseases for just a penny each time, according to CNN.
Dengue fever, a painful and potentially deadly virus that causes joint pain extreme enough to earn the nickname "bonecrusher disease", infects upwards of 100 million people every year. With no vaccine and no cure, there is little anyone can do to protect the 2.5 billion people currently at risk for infection. But University of California, Irvine professor Anthony James believes he can turn the very mosquitoes that spread the virus into the vector for prevention.
Unlike antibiotics, which kill many different types of bacteria, antiviral drugs for the most part need to target individual, specific viruses. A drug that attacks a multitude of viruses -- an antibiotic for viruses, effectively -- would be a significant boon for medicine. And a group of researchers led by UCLA scientists just may have discovered exactly that.